Members of the local community and primary school children have helped celebrate the opening of a new 22.5MW Burn of Whilk wind parc in Caithness.
The project located off the A99 near Wick was acquired by developers Eneco – part of a Dutch conglomerate – last year. It comprises nine 2.5MW Nordex N90/2500 R70 turbines on previously owned Forestry Commission land.
The wind farm was constructed after a 14 month build period which involved Scottish contractors including I&H Brown, RTS Forestry Ltd, MM Millers and Budge Formwork – injecting more than £8 million into the local economy.
Over this time Eneco has worked closely with the community regarding how the pledged benefit fund from the wind farm will be invested – this totals £5,000 per installed MW throughout the lifetime of the wind farm.
In response to requests to ensure that this investment creates a lasting legacy, a community working group comprising representatives from Tannach & District, and Latheron, Lybster and Clyth Community Councils has been established.
As well as fulfilling planning obligations to the nearby Yarrows Heritage Trail to enhance the visitor experience, Eneco sponsored the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the start of the first excavations of the trail.
To further connect the past with the present and the future and, to commemorate the opening of the project, local school pupils provided designs for a flag that will be stationed at the entrance to the wind farm. Three runners-up were shortlisted; these were Eva Robertson and Tegan Jackson from Lybster Primary School and Emma Cowie from Thrumster Primary School.
The overall winner – Emma Cowie – was given the honour of helping sustainability expert, Leo Johnson to bury a time-capsule at the base of turbine T103. Fhat future pupils of Thrumster and Lybster Primary schools will unveil this time capsule in 2040 when the wind farm is decommissioned.
Guy Madgwick, Managing Director, Eneco UK, said: “Burn of Whilk is an important step for our growing portfolio in the Scottish Highlands, including the Lochluichart Wind Farm commissioned last year and Moy Wind Farm which will open in 2016, also located in the Scottish Highlands.”