FOURTEEN years after the idea of a large wind farm on Lochluichart Estate near Garve was first suggested, an inaugural ceremony was held this week to launch the 23-turbine development.
The £70 million Lochluichart Wind Farm was opened by energy firm Eneco on Wednesday when its new local name, The Spinny Turners, was unveiled on a 10-metre poster stuck on a 74-metre high turbine.
The name was chosen by the children of Strathgarve Primary School and will be used across the project’s website and information.
A visitor centre providing information on the local area and its relationship with energy was also opened at the Aultguish Inn, situated across the road from the entrance to the wind farm site.
The centre, which sits next to the imposing structure of the Glascarnoch Dam, was officially opened by special guest speaker, sustainability expert Leo Johnson, the local schoolchildren and Eneco’s UK director Guy Madgwick.
The onshore wind project was first initiated and developed by Lochluichart Estate and Infinergy in 2000 and stirred up deep divisions and strong feelings in the community surrounding it.
Its proposal attracted thousands of objections and even more letters of support.
During the construction of the original 17-turbine wind farm, Eneco acquired the rights to develop the approved six-turbine extension from Infinergy and said the entire project would be completed at the same time.
The Lochluichart scheme is due to form a 42-turbine “cluster” wind farm with the approved 19-turbine Corriemoillie Wind Farm on a large site between Lochluichart on the A832 and Aultguish on the A835.
It has been claimed the Lochluichart Wind Farm and its extension will generate the power to meet the annual domestic electricity needs of 39,000 homes.
Eneco revealed this week that the two-and-a-half year construction programme has generated £3.5million in local contracts for the area. Almost £5million is due to be paid out to local communities through a benefit fund.
Speaking on Wednesday, Eneco’s UK director Guy Madgwick said: “Today’s event has been really symbolic of the achievement that is the Lochluichart Wind Farm.
“While we are proud of the build of the project, its output and significance to Eneco as our largest onshore wind project, we are most of all extremely appreciative of the cooperation and warm welcome from the community.
“In creating this project it’s really important to us that we are not only a good neighbour but also a fully contributing member of the Highland community – the local name given to the project by Strathgarve Primary School is therefore extremely fitting.
“For the future we have made a firm commitment to be a part of the community beginning with the recent opening of our operational office at Dochfour near Inverness.”