Friday 28th October 2016                 Change text size:

Ministers Take Step to Support Economic Future of Altnaharra

Windfarm by National Rural Knowledge Exchange via Flickr

The creation of Creag Riabhach Wind Farm on the Altnaharra Estate in Sutherland has been agreed to by Scottish Ministers, after The Highland Council consented to the application in September.

The wind farm will consist of 22 turbines, with a total generating capacity of 72.6MW.

The project, which was first submitted to the Scottish Government in January 2014, has been developed by a private company in partnership with a local working estate in Sutherland. Tim Philpot, Director of Creag Riabhach Wind Farm, said: “We welcome the decision by Scottish Ministers to consent Creag Riabhach Wind Farm. Over the last five years our dedicated team has been continually engaging with the local communities, the Highland Council and Scottish Ministers to deliver a project that we can all be proud of.

“Not only will Creag Riabhach generate up to 72.6MW of clean, renewable energy, but it will also give the communities of the North Highlands region a lasting legacy benefit of £700,000 through the Estate’s Altnaharra Foundation. This is aimed at providing employment and business opportunities in the area and includes a partnership with North Highland College UHI, to provide training and skills, employment opportunities, and apprenticeship funding for local employers.

“I would like to personally thank all those who have supported us over the past five years; your commitment and dedication to our project has been unwavering.”

The voices of the local communities in Sutherland have been heard, and we can now take this opportunity to invest in our future.

Pieter Bakker, Estate Manager and tenant farmer at Altnaharra Estate, said:

“The decision to consent Creag Riabhach Wind Farm is a significant boost to our estate and our community. Altnaharra Estate is the main source of employment in the area and this project will help secure additional jobs for local people.

“We have always had a policy of supporting local businesses and are in the final stages of completing a £1m plus forestry project, which has provided work for many local companies. Creag Riabhach Wind Farm will work to this procurement model, supplying important job opportunities for local contractors.

“My local community and the other communities surrounding the estate will significantly benefit from this project, which will provide up to £9 million in inward investment. This investment will be delivered as an annual contribution to a community benefit fund, and used to support important local projects. “The economy in Sutherland is fragile and in desperate need of investment, in particular in Altnaharra. This is why we are all so delighted with this positive outcome. Projects like Creag Riabhach Wind Farm are vital to our communities, and are the only way in which we can create a sustainable legacy for future generations in the area.”

Jim Johnston, Secretary of Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra Community Council also commented:

“We are delighted that Scottish Ministers have recognised the benefits that Creag Riabhach Wind Farm will have for our local communities. This development will provide a unique opportunity for the widely dispersed communities of northwest Sutherland to work together for the common good. We are very pleased that the voices of local communities in this most sparsely populated part of Scotland have been listened to.”

“The five Community Councils – Scourie, Kinlochbervie, Durness, Tongue, and Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra – have agreed to participate in the North and West Sutherland Charitable Trust to distribute part of the community benefit fund, with the Altnaharra Charitable Trust also assisting with the distribution of this crucial investment.”

Dr Paul Monaghan MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross added: “I am absolutely delighted that the Creag Riabhach Wind Farm has received consent to proceed. This particular renewable energy development is a shining example of just what can be achieved when local communities are fully involved in major infrastructure projects from their inception.

“With the consent of Creag Riabhach, I am particularly pleased for the people of Altnaharra who have worked tirelessly in support of this development and who now have an exciting future in prospect with investment taking place that has real potential for jobs, wealth and prosperity that can reverse decades of economic decline. Creag Riabhach is exactly the type of environmentally friendly and socially innovative development that can make best use of two of Sutherland’s finest resources: our people and our land.”

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