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Renewables firm aims to double the size of its Achany wind farm in Sutherland

SSE Renewables wants to increase the size of Achany wind farm, near Lairg in Sutherland.
SSE Renewables wants to increase the size of Achany wind farm, near Lairg in Sutherland.

SSE Renewables is seeking Scottish Government consent for an extension to the onshore Achany wind farm in Sutherland.

The existing 19 turbines generate 38 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy. The 20-turbine extension is expected to generate in excess of 80MW, meaning the enlarged wind farm – subject to government approval – could deliver in excess of 118MW.

Achany – previously called Glencassley – is about three miles north of the village of Rosehall and seven miles north-west of Lairg.

SSE Renewables, part of Perth-based energy firm SSE, said existing site access had been “carefully incorporated” into the design of the proposed extension. Tracks, passing places, and building and storage infrastructure can all be reused, minimising additional site requirements, the firm said.

The company added the new extension would be built closer to the existing wind farm than a previous proposal, creating “operational benefits in managing and maintaining the sites”.

Achany also benefits from an existing 65MW grid connection and a transmission offer is under evaluation to potentially increase this to 105MW.

‘Jobs and opportunities for local businesses’

Extension project manager Gillian Wilson said: “We believe this proposal for Achany… will make a significant contribution in the movement towards green energy in Scotland.

“The operational wind farm at Achany has been a considerable success, delivering 38MW of renewable energy towards the Scottish and UK governments’ net-zero emissions targets, and contributing hundreds of thousands of pounds to local organisations through our community investment fund.

“Achany extension is an opportunity to build on that success. The proposal will also create jobs and opportunities for local businesses to win contracts directly with us or with our supply chain.”

‘Key stakeholders’ consulted

SSE Renewables Achany extension consents manager Karen Anderson added: “Despite the Covid restrictions, we have consulted safely with key stakeholders throughout the development phase of the project, including statutory bodies, community councils and local residents and businesses.

“We are grateful for the feedback we have received over the course of this consultation which has helped us to shape the design. We look forward to further consultation as the project develops.”

A recent report into the impact of SSE Renewables’ onshore wind projects in Sutherland, from development to the end of the typical 25 years of operational life, suggested they will contribute more than £131 million to the Highland economy.

Community benefits

SSE Renewables said the existing Achany wind farm had already delivered more than £1m in community funding since becoming operational in 2010.

The company added: “This funding has supported projects such as establishing a local apprenticeship scheme and releasing £52,000 immediately to enable Bonar Bridge’s Bradbury Centre to provide support to local communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The proposed extension will also include a community fund which would be granted locally and across the Highland Council area through the already well-established SSE Renewables’ community investment programme.”

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