SSE welcomes consent for Strathy South Wind Farm

SSE has today, 27 April, welcomed the decision by Scottish Ministers to grant planning consent for SSE’s Strathy South Wind Farm proposal in Sutherland in the Highlands.

The decision follows an independent public inquiry held in early 2015, which examined in detail all of the evidence put forward by all parties, and concluded with a recommendation to approve the project.

Located 12km south of Strathy village in an area of the Flow Country degraded by commercial forestry, the proposed wind farm comprises 39 turbines with a renewable energy generation capacity of up to 133MW.

A crucial element of the project would be to deliver a significant peat restoration and management plan, which would include removing non-native forestry from both inside and outside the project boundary to allow restoration of the badly affected areas back to native peatland habitat.

This restoration represents an area which greatly outweighs the footprint of the proposed wind farm infrastructure. The overall carbon payback period for the project would be 1.1 years.

Mike Seaton, SSE’s Director of Development, said: “The Strathy South project would deliver renewable energy and significant net environmental gain through the long-term restoration of extensive areas of degraded peatland and we are pleased that this has been recognised through an objective independent process. SSE prides itself in being a responsible developer.

“We welcome the decision to approve Strathy South and are pleased that Scottish Ministers share our view that this is a good project in a good location, which can deliver environmental and socio economic benefits to the local community and wider Highland region. Changes to UK energy policy in relation to onshore wind mean that we must now carefully consider our options for the site.”

Janette Mackay, Chair of Strathy and Armadale’s Community Council, said: “After waiting nearly three years for the result of the public enquiry we are delighted to learn that Strathy South has been given the go ahead. 

“We can now look forward to seeing the work start up again with all the benefits that brings to our young workers, businesses, and the North Coast area which has been sadly neglected.

“I'm sure the immense show of public support for the wind farm helped in the final decision and we'd like to thank SSE for their commitment to us.”

The 33 turbines at SSE’s neighbouring Strathy North wind farm were completed in 2016 and brought economic benefits in the form of contracts for local companies and employment opportunities to the region. The project received significant support from local people throughout the long planning process, including at a public inquiry where local people demonstrated outside the inquiry in support of the project.

SSE will continue to work alongside local communities, businesses and other stakeholders as it considers the detail of the consent decision and next steps for the project. 

Photo credit: Jim Johnston