About the revised proposal
Cairn Duhie lies south-east of the village of Ferness, in Nairnshire, and the original 20-turbine scheme was consented by the Scottish Government in 2017. More information can be found here.
The decision to revise the design has been driven by the need to optimise the site and use modern turbines. RES wants to ensure that Cairn Duhie operates as efficiently as possible and contributes the maximum that it can towards the Scottish Government’s target of generating 50% of Scotland’s overall energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030.
With the ever-growing threat of climate change and the catastrophic impacts it could have, it is imperative that we deliver clean, low cost electricity as efficiently as possible. New onshore wind and large scale solar are now the cheapest forms of electricity generation, making onshore wind developments not only beneficial for the environment but also for bill payers. The proposed re-design of Cairn Duhie will create a scheme will deliver electricity at least cost to consumers whilst helping tackle the pressing issue of climate change.
Initial site feasibility work led to a 16-turbine layout being developed early in 2020 which was submitted as part of a Scoping Report in February 2020 to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU) and other key consultees, setting out the proposed scope of environmental assessment work.
Further detailed environmental surveys and technical studies were undertaken as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, to help inform and develop the design, together with feedback from key consultees and community comments on the proposal from the online exhibition in May 2020.
Whilst the revised scheme sits within the same site boundary area as the original (consented) scheme, turbine locations and heights have changed; as such RES was required to submit a new application for Section 36 consent to the Scottish Government (under the Electricity Act 1989 (the Act) in March 2021.
In March 2021, RES submitted a Section 36 application for consent to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit for a revised 16-turbine wind farm proposal at Cairn Duhie. The application and associated documents are available to view here and also on the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit’s website at www.energyconsents.scot and the application reference number is ECU00003255.
In December 2021, RES submitted additional information to Scottish Ministers in support of the application.
In February 2022, The Highland Council objected to the application under delegated powers, triggering a public inquiry – details of which will become available in due course.
Reasons to support the revised proposal
Cairn Duhie lies in an area which has been identified as having ‘potential for wind farm development’ within Highland Council’s Spatial Framework policy. The site also good wind speeds, straightforward access from the A939, as well no international or national nature designations.
From a socio-economic perspective, the project is predicted to deliver around £4.4 million of inward investment to the local area in the form of jobs, employment, and use of local services. In addition, the project would deliver around £21 million in business rates to The Highland Council over its lifetime.
With the ever-growing threat of climate change and the catastrophic impacts it could have, it is imperative that we deliver renewable electricity as efficiently as possible and at the lowest cost to consumers. If consented, Cairn Duhie would be capable of generating clean, low-cost renewable electricity for around 52,000 homes - contributing to Scotland’s target of 50% energy consumption from renewables by 2030 and helping towards tackling the pressing issue of climate change.
We’ve also been listening to people’s feedback over the last year or so as we’ve developed the proposal and maintaining a regular dialogue with the host Community Council, East Nairnshire, to keep them informed about the proposal. In early March 2020, RES undertook door-to-door visits in Ferness village in order to engage with residents and raise awareness of the proposal. An online exhibition and consultation was launched in May 2020 to engage with the local community - attracting over 220 ‘unique visits’ to the online exhibition page on the day that it was launched and a wide range of feedback, with over 65% of comments forms received confirming that people were ‘supportive’ or ‘strongly supportive’ of the revised, optimised design for Cairn Duhie Wind Farm. During the development of the project RES also issued a project newsletter to local households within 5km of the site in order to keep people up to date.
RES has also been exploring some of the ideas and opportunities for local benefit which were suggested in people’s feedback from the online exhibition. Based on the feedback received, we have decided to prioritise discounting the annual electricity bills of residents living closest to the proposal as this was the preferred opportunity, however, we will also continue to work with the community to investigate other meaningful forms of local benefit which were raised during conversations locally – including opportunities to maximise inward investment to the area from Cairn Duhie, particularly during construction.