Jobs and cash pledge over wind farm bid

The proposed site at Fauch Hill, West Lothian
The proposed site at Fauch Hill, West Lothian
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A MASSIVE £100 million wind farm generating enough energy to power Livingston would be up and running by the end of next year under detailed plans lodged with the Scottish Government.

The 23-turbine project at Fauch Hill, on edge of the Pentlands Regional Park, is expected to deliver 60 full-time jobs over the 25-year lifespan of the wind farm, which would be run by renewable energy firm Fauch Hill Sustainable Energy (FHSE), part of European Forest Resources Group.

The development, 8km south-west of West Calder, will be considered by Scottish ministers under rules governing planning applications for wind farms that will generate more than 50MW of power.

Initial plans for a 43-turbine development were revised following consultation with the Scottish Government but were then further reduced to 23 following a local consultation.

Changes were also made to the scale of the turbines which have reduced the blades to a maximum of 125 metres. The equivalent of 42,000 homes could be powered by the wind farm, and if the plans are approved, construction is due to start early next year, with the facility operational by the end of 2013.

Developers plan to create a large section of new forest to shield surrounding homes from the site.

If the government gives it the green light, £7m of contributions will be available to local communities over the next 25 years.

The project site is thought to be an “excellent wind resource” and has additional advantages of being close to the electricity grid and with few residential or commercial properties nearby.

Debbie Chawner, director of FHSE said: “For almost two years we have engaged with local stakeholders and communities. We have used these discussions to shape our proposal, and we feel that our application reflects the feedback we have had during this process.

“West Lothian is the ideal location for our project and we are excited to be investing in the area. We are incredibly proud of our community benefit package, which enables local communities to directly participate in the benefits of the wind farm.

“People living the area will benefit from job opportunities, training and apprenticeships.”

West Lothian Council leader Peter Johnston said: “This is a project that appears to be a very significant opportunity for West Lothian and clearly we will have to consider it very carefully to ensure we get the right balance for the community.”

The Scottish Government aims to produce 100 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020.