12th February 2024
RES, the British renewable energy company behind the five-turbine Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm proposal, has submitted a new Biodiversity Enhancement Management Plan (BEMP) to accompany its planning application. The biodiversity enriching plan includes measures to enhance 56 hectares of wet heath habitat, plant 5.5 hectares of broadleaved woodland, create 4.5 hectares of species-rich scrub as well as the planting of over 2,300m of species-rich hedgerows.
The proposed wind farm is located in an area identified by The Highland Council as having ‘potential for wind farm development’ and is currently used for grazing sheep. The recent State of Nature Report suggests there has been a 15% decline in average species abundance in Scotland across closely monitored wildlife since 1994¹. RES has said the measures at Cairnmore Hill would improve local flora and fauna during the site’s operational life with the bespoke BEMP calculating a 16% Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), as a direct result of the wind farm being built.
Euan Hogg, RES’ Development Project Manager, explained: “There’s currently a range of pressures being exerted on Scotland’s natural environment, including the direct impacts of human induced climate change, and it’s so important that we take measures to enhance our precious biodiversity, wherever we can. Cairnmore Hill offers a fantastic opportunity to do just that with a range of habitat improvements proposed to support a richer and more diverse mix of species on-site.
“The enhancement and restoration proposed could help improve the breeding, wintering and foraging habitats for a whole range of species, including waders and increase the floral species diversity. The turbines producing clean electricity on-site would also work hand in hand with the carbon-absorbing wet heath, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.”
A Biodiversity Management Group (BMG) would be established to oversee and monitor the implementation of the agreed BEMP and is likely to include representatives from The Highland Council and NatureScot.
If consented, the Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm proposal would help offset the equivalent of 23,736 tonnes of CO2 each year, pay back the construction carbon emissions in 1.5 years, and be capable of generating enough clean, low-cost electricity to meet the annual demand of around 28,000 homes.
In addition, it is predicted that the wind farm would deliver approximately £1.4 million of inward investment in the form of jobs, employment, and the use of local services during construction and the first year of operation – and around £8.75 million in business rates to The Highland Council over its operational lifetime.
RES also proposes to create additional benefit from the scheme by delivering a tailored community benefit package for the local area to help secure long-term economic, social and environmental benefits.
Furthermore, at a Highland-wide level, RES recently announced a new collaboration with UHI to support their Student Development Fund. The fund will empower a minimum of 60 students of UHI to further their personal development by providing financial support to overcome barriers to participate in learning opportunities and extra-curricular activities.