Monday, November 16, 2015

Despite "committee fatigue" Tom nan Clach windfarm community benefit agreed and memorandum of understanding signed

Last Monday night at the regular meeting of Cawdor Community Council it was revealed that from 2019 the Cawdor area will receive £60,000 per annum from the Tom nan Clach wind fram developement the benefit will last 25 years and will also be index linked. Since then the developers have issued a press release: 

"On behalf of Nanclach Limited, wind farm developer Infinergy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with all of the communities surrounding the Tom nan Clach Wind Farm development. 

Tom nan Clach Wind Farm, a joint venture between Infinergy and Cawdor Estates which was consented in July 2013 has a community benefit fund set at the Scottish Government’s recommended level of £5000 per MW of installed capacity, equivalent to around £195,000 per year for the 25 year life of the wind farm.

The communities involved; Cawdor & West Nairnshire, East Nairnshire, Strathdearn, Carrbridge, Dulnain Bridge and Grantown on Spey & the Dava have been working with the developer for a number of years to decide how best to manage such a fund, which will be delivered on the first anniversary of the commissioning of the wind farm in 2019. 

Esbjorn Wilmar, Managing Director of Infinergy said: “We are delighted that the communities have been able to work together to come to an agreement about the distribution of the funds.”

“Whilst this process has been a lengthy one, we felt from the outset that it was right to bring all concerned around the table to make a decision rather than imposing a management structure that might not have been effective in delivering benefits to local people.”

Tom nan Clach Wind Farm currently has consent for 17 turbines, each with an installed capacity of 2.3MW, but a grid connection date of 2018. Wind turbine technology and design principles have evolved and improved a great deal in the last three years and so, given the time available between consent and connection to the grid, the site has been the subject of further research and environmental studies. This has enabled a redesign with 4 fewer turbines that, with an increase in tip height of 15m, will deliver substantially more renewable energy and reduce the environmental impacts on site. An application for the 13 turbine repowering, with a total combined capacity of 39 MW, has now been submitted as a Major Development Application to The Highland Council and is expected to be determined in the coming months. 

Once constructed, the wind farm will start to make important contributions to the ambitious renewable energy targets that have been set by both The Highland Council and the Scottish Government as part of their policy to ensure greater diversity and security of electricity supplies.

At that time this joint venture with Cawdor Estates will also enable further investment into the area by the land owner, as a long-term stakeholder, providing income and sustaining jobs both directly and indirectly.

Picture shows some of the local CC members on a visit to Moy wind farm with Eneco
Fiona Milligan, Inverness-based Project Manager for Infinergy, said: “Whilst our original idea was to have one single fund representing the communities, as with other wind farm funds in the area, discussions with those communities brought up a number of issues, including ‘committee fatigue’. We wanted to make sure that whatever solution we arrived at, it would be one that best served the communities for the future and I believe we have reached just such a solution.” 

“By signing up to a Memorandum of Understanding, the communities and the developer have made a commitment to working together to ensure Tom nan Clach Community Benefit fund is able to contribute to stronger and more sustainable communities for the long term.”

Margaret Robertson, outgoing interim Chair of Cawdor and West Nairnshire Community Council, said: “Each of the communities surrounding Tom nan Clach is at a different stage in terms of community planning and we certainly felt that our needs would be best served by agreeing a set share of the fund so that we know exactly how much money we have to work with annually and be able to plan for large projects in the future.”

Vivian Roden, Chair of the Strathdearn Community Council added: “Committee ‘fatigue’ is an issue in a small community like Strathdearn, and so we are delighted that Infinergy was able to work with us to deliver a community benefit fund solution that suits our needs and those of the other parties involved.” "