Achiltibuie £1.8m turbine pays off for Highland community-owned wind farm

Friends and supporters of the Achiltibuie wind – from left – include: Julia Campbell, Phil Shaughnessy, 'Scout' the dog, Anne Campbell, Ann Macleod, Stuart MacPherson and Lindsay Simpson.  PHOTOGRAPHY Malcom McMurrah
Friends and supporters of the Achiltibuie wind – from left – include: Julia Campbell, Phil Shaughnessy, ‘Scout’ the dog, Anne Campbell, Ann Macleod, Stuart MacPherson and Lindsay Simpson. PHOTOGRAPHY Malcom McMurrah

A £1.8 million project to install a community wind turbine in rural Wester Ross is starting to pay off.

The turbine – procured by the Coigach Community Development Company – is owned and managed by Coigach Community CiC and is believed to be the first large community-owned turbine in the mainland Highlands.

The turbine is now producing power which is supplied to the National Grid and is forecast to bring over £2 million of community benefit funds over its 20 year life. The income will be used to improve local services and infrastructure, help establish new businesses, provide bursaries and fund training for all ages.

Often referred to by the name of its main village, Achiltibuie, the Coigach Peninsula covers 15,500 hectares including around 20 small islands known as the Summer Isles and is designated a National Scenic Area. The total population is 271.

CCDC hired  two part time local development officers to take forward a range of projects with potential to generate income and improve sustainability. These focus on renewables, provision of commercial premises, housing, tourism (including piers and harbours), land and environment.

Iain Muir, CCDC Chairman, said: “Like the road to Achiltibuie, the journey has been long, narrow and winding, and not without its pot-holes, precipitous roadside drops and things jumping out in front of us, but finally we’ve reached our goal and it’s fantastic to see the blades turning.

“It’s taken so many years of dedicated voluntary effort by members of the community as well as our staff. However, splendid though the turbine is, it’s simply a means to an end – its job is to generate funds for us to plough into our community to secure a bright future for present generations and those yet to come.”

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