The Scottish government has overruled protests from locals and environmental groups to grant permission to Renewable Energy Systems Limited RES to construct the 33-turbine Dunmaglass Windfarm, located approximately 25 kilometres south of Inverness. The renewable energy company submitted its first application for the project in 2005, but withdrew it and made a second submission in 2008 in order to take local concerns into account.
The turbines, rated at 3-MW each, will stand at a maximum height of 120 metres and will be capable of generating enough power for more than 45,000 homes, representing 40 of all homes in the Highlands region. While Scotland is determined to greatly invest in green energy, many windfarm projects have been rejected. In August last year, three onshore projects with a combined generating capacity of more than 130 MW were turned down.
"This is another step on the road to a low-carbon Scotland, with a further 46,000 homes set to be powered by clean, green electricity," said Scotland's Energy Minister, Jim Mather, on awarding consent.
"Scotland already gets over a quarter of its electricity needs from green sources, and consent for this new development rounds off another tremendous year for renewables. I am pleased that the developer has agreed a community benefit package for the three local community councils and will fund a substantial package of upgrades of the local B851 road. RES is also involved in an innovative link with the University of Highlands and Islands for a graduate development programme and an internship programme."
Allan Johnston, Head of Development for RES in Scotland, added: "Dunmaglass is an ideal location for a windfarm and has no landscape or ecological designations, which is why after careful consideration it has been approved. Dunmaglass has been in the planning system for six years and during that time RES has listened to local residents, consultees and stakeholders, taken their comments on board, and modified the proposal where possible to address the concerns raised."
Scotland has one of the most ambitious green energy plans in Europe. In 2009, renewable energy supplied 27 of Scotland's electricity needs. By 2020, Scotland wants this figure raised to 80. There are currently around 7 gigawatts GW of renewables capacity installed, under construction or that has received consent in Scotland. The Scottish Government's Energy Consents and Deployment Unit is currently processing 34 applications 24 onshore wind, five hydro and five thermal.