Strathy North

  • Category: Renewables
  • Energy type: Onshore wind
  • Project type: Project

Strathy North wind farm site is located approximately 7km from Strathy village, Sutherland, in an area of commercial forestry plantation.

  • 33 turbine project
  • received consent from Scottish Ministers in November 2011
  • now under construction
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Strathy North wind farm - winter 2014 project update

Strathy North wind farm site is located approximately 7km from Strathy village, Sutherland, in an area of commercial forestry plantation. In this short video, project manager Rod Crawford and liaison manager Ruth Liddicoat provide an update on how work is progressing.

Watch the video


We recognise that our investments in new electricity generation benefit from the cooperation of the local community in a variety of ways, particularly during the construction phase. In recognition of this, our policy is to establish long-term funds to support community projects in areas where we are developing generation projects.

There are two local funds associated with Strathy North wind farm:

Strathy and Armadale Fund
This one-off lump sum fund of £228,000 was launched in April 2014 and is ring-fenced for the Strathy and Armadale Community Council area which 'hosts' the project. The first round of grants were awarded in June, with the second round of funding closing on 18 August. For more information click here.

Community Fund Advisory Panel Strathy ArmadalePictured: Strathy and Armadale Fund Panel

Joint Fund
This annual fund of £170,000 (for the 25 year operational life of the wind farm) was launched in October 2014. It is shared by the Community Council areas of Strathy and Armadale; Bettyhill, Strathnaver and Altnaharra and Melvich. For more information click here.

An additional £170,000 will be provided annually into SSE's Highland Sustainable Development Fund from the Strathy North project to support strategic projects which benefit Highland communities, with priority given to locations near our renewable developments.  For more information click here.

Latest news


There will be a trial run on the morning of Thursday 15th January for the ‘abnormal loads’ which will transport the turbine components to Strathy North.

It will leave Scrabster harbour at around 9am and travel the 20 miles or so along the A836 north coast road to the site entrance at Baligill. It is expected that this journey will take around 2 hours and should be finished, weather and traffic permitting, by around 11am.

The trial run will involve an extendable truck, with an overhang to the rear, that will simulate the abnormal load vehicles which will be used to transport the wind turbine components to Strathy North wind farm. The vehicle will be escorted by the police, and access will be maintained for emergency vehicles at all times. On the return journey the trailer will be closed up and will be no larger than a standard HGV.

Whilst this exercise has the potential to cause some temporary delays along the north coast road, we do not expect there to be any significant disruption. However, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Quick overview

Strathy North is a 33 turbine wind farm located in a commercial forestry plantation called Strathy Forest, approximately 7km south of Strathy Village, in north Sutherland. It was consented by the Scottish Government in November 2011 and is now under construction.

In July 2013 we started 'enabling works' in order to prepare the site for the main construction phase of the project. These works involved (amongst other things) building a new access track to the site entrance to bypass Strathy village.

In February 2014 we appointed RJ McLeod as our civil contractor for the main construction works which are now underway. The first phase of work has focused on building the main access track through the site and spur roads out to the turbine locations, and we are now constructing the turbine bases. Turbine deliveries will begin in Spring 2015 followed by erection, testing and commissioning before the site becomes fully operational towards the end of 2015.

More information

Project information

In January 2007 we submitted a proposal to the Scottish Government for a 35 turbine wind farm at Strathy Forest, approximately 7km from Strathy Village in Sutherland. Since lodging this application we removed two turbines from the design, in response to feedback, and submitted an Addendum in November 2010 to the Scottish Government for a smaller 33 turbine scheme.

We worked closely with the Scottish Government and key consultees throughout the planning process to review responses received and where possible, address the points raised. On 10 May 2011 The Highland Council (a key consultee to the Scottish Government) held a special planning committee meeting to discuss the Strathy North wind farm proposal and provide their response to the Scottish Government. The Council supported the planning report which recommended 'no objection' to the proposal, and on 22 November 2011 consent for the Strathy North proposal was granted by the Scottish Government.

Forestry works
The Strathy North site is located in an area of commercial forestry plantation. In October 2012 we began the first phase of forestry works using a technique called 'keyholing' which targets and removes specific areas of plantation, such as those on the access track routes and turbine base areas, to help open up access to different areas of the site for construction. A mixture of mulching (to produce wood-chipped areas on site) and conventional timber harvesting was used to do this, in line with the site's Habitat Management Plan.

A few loads of harvested timber have been directed to Forsinain, to assist the local sawmill, with the remainder stockpiled whilst it is gradually extracted.

The forestry works will continue into the operational phase of the wind farm, involving a mix of mulching and felling, to gradually clear the commercial forestry on site. The eastern part of the site will also be replanted with native woodland, in addition to other habitat work such as peatland restoration to the south of the site.

Enabling works
In July 2013 we started ‘enabling works’ to prepare the site for the main construction phase of the project. These works were undertaken by highland civil contractor, RJ McLeod, and involved the following:

  • Installing a temporary bridge (at Dallangwell) near the site entrance 
  • Building a platform for the on-site substation 
  • Opening a borrow pit to acquire rock and stone 
  • Minor on-site road works (between borrow pit and substation area) 
  • Building the new access track from Baligill (to bypass Strathy village)

The new access track that was built from Baligill on the A836 north coast road, to join up with the Bowside track which leads to site, was an important element of the preparatory works. This new track ensures that construction traffic and turbine deliveries associated with the main works can bypass Strathy village.

Main construction works
In February 2014, SSE appointed Highland civil engineering firm RJ McLeod as its principal contractor for the main construction works at Strathy North wind farm which are now underway. The main access track through the site together with the spur roads out to each of the turbine locations and associated hard-standing areas are complete.

In May this year we started work on the turbine bases and this involves excavating the foundations and building the steel lattice framework part of the base which will then be poured with concrete. There are 33 bases to build and they are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.

The on-site substation which will initially receive the power from the site and release it onto the grid is gradually being developed, and cabling works to lay the connections out to each of the turbine bases are underway.

Turbine deliveries are expected to start around the Spring of 2015 and we will then erect the turbines and begin testing and commissioning them in stages before the site becomes fully operational towards the end of 2015.

Involving local businesses

Our approach
We are committed to maximising the benefits and opportunities for local businesses and communities from the Strathy North project.

Business opportunities event
In February 2014 we held a Business Opportunities event in Strathy Village Hall to help local firms find out more about the upcoming opportunities associated with the £109m project. Over 50 businesses attended from across the north Highlands to talk to SSE's project construction team and principal civil contractor, RJ McLeod, about the services they could offer and how to get involved with the project. Our Open4Business procurement team was also on hand to help businesses register on SSE's highland portal at where Strathy North project opportunities will be advertised.

Strathy North - Business Opportunities Event
Feedback from the event was very positive, and Janette MacKay, Strathy & Armadale Community Council Chairperson, said: “SSE has worked hard to ensure that the event was well organised and relevant to the local area, and the feedback from within the community has been excellent. There are a growing number of people from the immediate communities of Strathy, Bettyhill and Melvich who have received work and long-term employment from the project either during the ‘enabling’ period or since the main construction phase has started, in addition to the bigger businesses in the wider north coast area. In fact, there are more people than we realised who are getting jobs from the project."

To see a video from the event, please click the link here.

Using local services
We have already been using a wide variety of local services in the area during the enabling works phase of the project. These include the hotels and B&Bs, restaurants and cafes, shops, garages and petrol stations, and local village halls for meetings and events. This is expected to continue into the main construction phase of works.

Involving local businesses
One of the key benefits from a project like Strathy North is the opportunities it provides to local businesses to get involved. Already, since the enabling works started in July 2013, the project has already generated in excess of £7m of investment to the Sutherland and wider Highland economy. Rural businesses at all levels have benefitted, from small operators like the Melvich shop, Clean Bees cleaning company in Bettyhill, accommodation providers in the local area and local trades people such as joiners and fencers, through to larger businesses within the wider area including:

  • Charles Angus Engineers (Thurso) 
  • John Gunn and Sons Ltd (Kirkton Quarry - Melvich)
  • E&M Engineering (Scrabster) 
  • GMR Henderson (Wick) 
  • MM Miller (Wick)
  • Simpson Oils (Thurso)
  • Waverley Plant Hire (Golspie)

This is in addition to Highlands civil engineering firm, RJ McLeod, which was awarded a £14m contract in February 2014. For more information click here.

In May 2014 SSE contractor RJ McLeod engaged the services of John Gunn & Sons – operator of the Kirkton Quarry in Melvich – in a landmark seven-figure deal for the local firm. The quarry will provide concrete for the turbine bases at SSE’s Strathy North wind farm, which is currently under construction nearby, and also enable its owners to invest in a new batching plant. This will allow the materials required for the construction project to be mixed at the quarry before being delivered to the wind farm site. For more information click here.

The project has also created a number of permanent new jobs in the local area, and indirectly supported many others.