Wind energy hub to bring £17m in community benefits

Friday April 26th 2024

Wind Turbine Soutra

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

A proposed wind energy hub on land north-east of Peebles is set to generate more than £17m in community benefits over its lifespan, it has emerged.

Belltown Power UK has lodged an application with the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit for 13 turbines with maximum tip heights of 200m and a total capacity of approximately 85.8 MW, in addition to a battery energy storage facility on site.

This wind energy hub will contribute to Scotland’s renewable energy targets and help balance the grid as it continues to de-carbonise.

Located approximately 4.5km north-east of Peebles on a ridge encompassing Dunslair Heights, the proposed site currently comprises commercial forestry and a small area of open moorland within the Leithenwater valley area.

The proposal has been lodged following a 12-month long public consultation that included a series of public exhibitions and meetings with community councils, other local community organisations, local businesses and residents.

Belltown have also consulted with statutory bodies including NatureScot, Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Some 539 people attended the public exhibitions held in April and November last year and Belltown received over 600 feedback forms.

Analysis of that feedback shows that nearly three quarters of local people (74 per cent) agreed that the proposed site is suitable for a wind farm. Support for onshore wind more generally is strong in the area, with 81 per cent of respondents expressing approval for onshore wind farms.

Speaking about the project, Peter Thomas, senior development manager at Belltown, said, “We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to our consultation and to give us their views over the past year. This has been invaluable in helping us shape our final proposals and in understanding local people’s priorities.

“We will work together with the local community and the landowners to deliver a project that maximises local benefits and clean energy, whilst sympathetically protecting and enhancing the natural environment.”

Belltown will provide the local community with £5,000 per MW installed per year (index linked) of Community Benefit for the lifetime of the project.

Based on the current proposal, this has the potential to generate approximately £420,000 a year for local communities every year, for the 40-year lifetime of the project -totalling £17.2m based on a 40-year operational life.

The public consultations found that two thirds of respondents would like the community benefit funds to be put towards the improvement of local facilities.

Should the proposal be consented, Belltown will aim to start construction in 2026. The company offers a procurement policy that favours local contractors to ensure they and local suppliers benefit from the project.

As a Section 36 project, the application will eventually be determined by Scottish Government Ministers with Scottish Borders Council as a key consultee.

People have until June 3 to make formal representations to the Government about the proposal via email to the ECU mailbox at ; or by post to the Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit, 4th Floor, 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow, G2 8LU, identifying the application and specifying the grounds for representation.

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