The Scottish government has approved the plans for Lethans Wind Farm, east of New Cumnock in East Ayrshire. Banks Renewals had revised the plans to maximise the supply of electricity.
Approval means Lethans’ 22 turbines, with maximum tip height of 220m, will have a maximum output of up to 105.6MW.
When it lodged the original plan in 2015, Banks Renewables had valued the construction costs at an estimated £105m with a potential £21m to form local contracts. The original plan for Lethans Wind Farm was approved in March 2018. However, Banks Renewables undertook an extensive redesign of the project to maximise efficiency, including reducing the number of turbines from 26 to 22 and changing the layout of the wind farm. To reflect those changes, the company submitted a Section 36 planning application to the Scottish government’s Energy Consents & Deployment Unit, which has now been fully approved.
Robin Winstanley, sustainability and external affairs manager at Banks Renewables, said: “This has taken many years of hard work, planning and close consultation with the local community and it is a major milestone to see it over the line.
“As well as being a meaningful advance in Scotland’s green energy agenda, approval for Lethans will also deliver real, deep and long-lasting benefits to the local people, the environment and to the economy of East Ayrshire.”
He added: “Over the 30 years of its lifespan, Lethans will contribute at least £7.1m into a local community benefit fund. It will also contribute another £7.1m to East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund. That is money that can be targeted to make a meaningful and positive impact on life in the area, particularly on projects which local people have identified as important to them.”
Hamilton-based Banks Renewables has worked closely with local independent renewable energy consultant and service provider Natural Power on the project.
Emily Galloway, principal project manager at Natural Power, said: “As the renewable energy industry works towards its climate change targets, it is vital that onshore wind farms maximise their efficiency in order to provide low cost, low carbon electricity to energy consumers. Therefore larger, more productive turbines that maximise energy yields must be considered.
“We are really delighted to see another pioneering scheme pushing the boundaries of turbine dimensions – securing the best possible outcome for our client and the wider energy sector.”
Banks Renewables has adopted a charter that is expected to see at least £16m in invested in the area via local suppliers and contractors.
Among the benefits Lethans will bring will be a £1.3m skills and training fund targeted to support up to 440 local, unemployed people to get into work or training. The project will also pay £38m in business rates over its lifetime – while a local community body will have the opportunity to purchase a 5% equity stake in the wind farm with a 25% community discount.