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Consultation begins on GFG Alliance renewable energy project to support industrial job creation in Scotland

Residents and other stakeholders have been invited to two public events later this month (November) to learn more about plans for a Highland wind farm designed to deliver green energy to support many hundreds of industrial jobs in Scotland.

SIMEC Energy, which has brought the plan forward, also wants to get the input of local people around the Glenshero area as is develops its proposals for the 168MW scheme and prepares to submit a planning application early next year.

SIMEC, part of the GFG Alliance, says the wind farm, which will involve an investment estimated to be around £150m, will contribute low-cost, low-carbon energy for industrial developments across Scotland. SIMEC’s sister company Liberty British Aluminium is currently planning a  new  alloy wheels factory next door to its smelter at Fort William, which will create more than 400 jobs directly and hundreds more in the wider economy.

In addition, it is hoped the wind farm will contribute long-term clean power for the development of Liberty’s steel mills in Lanarkshire which roll the plate steel used in the manufacture of wind towers. The company is also hoping to set up a wind tower fabrication plant in Scotland.

During construction and the first year of operation, it is estimated that the Glenshero project will bring a minimum of £23m into the Highlands economy by generating work for local businesses.

Details of the plans for a wind farm of up to 40 turbines will be outlined by SIMEC Energy representatives during information events at Laggan Village Hall on Monday 20th November and Fort Augustus Village Hall on Tuesday 21st November. Both events will be open between 3pm and 7:30pm for visitors to drop in to see initial plans, hear briefings and share their views.

This will include information about the installation itself and how it will fit into its surroundings, and also details of opportunities for local communities to share in the ownership of the wind farm. In addition, representatives will explain an innovative scheme to enable homes, businesses and community facilities near the site to receive discounts on their electricity bills.

The meetings are part of an extensive consultation on the wind farm plan. The original proposal for 54 turbines has already been revised following preliminary discussions between GFG and statutory consultees and after initial site investigation work.

The wind farm at Glenshero is just one part of a wider GFG Alliance vision to develop the Lochaber estate lands for the benefit of the regional economy and communities. This includes enhancement and expansion of hydro-power, new recreational facilities, new and upgraded visitor accommodation, improved agriculture, forestry and fisheries, better access to the land and support for new local enterprises.

Duncan Mackison, chief executive of JAHAMA Highland Estates, the GFG division which manages and develops the estate lands, said: “We hope as many people as possible will come along to the public events at Laggan and Fort Augustus, so we can share details of these exciting proposals and hear local views. We’ve already had initial conversations with key stakeholders and these meetings are a valuable opportunity to take that to the next stage and involve local residents in the process of developing a scheme which promises to bring extensive benefits to the area.”