Revised Strathy South Wind Farm plans will support over 50 Highland jobs

An artist’s impression of SSE Renewables’ proposed Strathy South Wind Farm

2 September 2020: SSE Renewables has submitted an application to Scottish Ministers to vary the existing consent for the proposed Strathy South Wind Farm, previously granted in April 2018. If approved and built, the revised wind farm project would be expected to support over 50 jobs in the Highlands including Caithness and Sutherland during each year of its operational lifetime, helping drive Scotland’s green economic recovery.

The Strathy South Wind Farm project is located to the south of SSE Renewables' operational Strathy North Wind Farm, approximately 12km to the south of Strathy village.

When originally proposed, the current consented wind farm plans received widespread public support from the local community. Now, the team behind the new revised plans for the project are proposing to build on that local support to deliver additional socio-economic benefits to the immediate Caithness and Sutherland region and wider Highlands.

The application seeks to vary the tip height of the proposed 39 turbines from 135m to a maximum height of 200m and increase generating capacity at the site from 133MW to up to 208MW. As a result, the revised Strathy South Wind Farm would be expected to produce 920GWh of renewable energy each year, enough green electricity to power over 315,000 homes and make a vital contribution to Scotland’s net zero carbon reduction goals by 2045.*

When complete SSE Renewables estimates the operation of the Strathy South Wind Farm can support over 50 indirect jobs each year in the Highlands including Caithness and Sutherland. A new community benefit fund for Strathy South, estimated at over half a million pounds annually, will build on the existing Strathy North Community Fund which already contributes £170,000 each year to many worthwhile projects.

Project Manager Jon Soal said: “Strathy South has received incredible levels of support from the local community over the years which has been fantastic and is hugely appreciated by the project team.

“If consented, we are confident know that Strathy South can build on the success of the existing Strathy North site and bring benefits to local businesses and communities, both during construction and throughout its lifetime.”

In addition to turbine variations, the revised plans envisage changes to access tracks to avoid areas of deep peat where possible and the replacement of the consented met masts with permanent LiDAR equipment.

To inform the Environmental Impact Assessment, additional survey work has been carried out, including a further two years of breeding bird surveys.

The project’s Habitat Management Plan commits to the removal of 1,133 hectares of commercial forestry plantation and the restoration of peatland habitats, whilst removing indirect impacts to the Caithness and Sutherland Peatland Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). SSE Renewables has also committed to additional off-site peatland restoration of 1,535 hectares. This combined onsite and off-site peatland restoration will assist the Scottish Government in meeting its targets for peatland restoration.

The Strathy South project could build on the substantial socio-economic benefits already being delivered by SSE Renewables to the local area and region from the existing Strathy North Wind Farm. Independent analysis shows that throughout its lifetime Strathy North will generate around £75m in total expenditure in the Highland Council area alone.

* Projected annual power production and homes powered derived from dividing the Energy Produced by the average annual domestic electricity consumption of a UK home of 2,900KWh/p.a. Source: Decision on revised Typical Domestic Consumption Values for gas and electricity and Economy 7 consumption split, Electricity – Profile Class 01 (Medium); Ofgem 6th January 2020.