Renewable energy firm Infinergy has said it is bitterly disappointed at the Scottish Government’s decision to reject its 24 turbine-turbine wind farm at Limekiln, south of Reay in Caithness on the basis of “insufficient information” relating to the East Haladale Flows wild land area.

Esbjorn Wilmar, Managing Director of Infinergy said: “Ministers have missed a huge opportunity today to contribute to the renewable energy targets they themselves have set in Government.”

Mr Wilmar continued: “We always believed this was a good scheme and the reporters indeed concluded that our proposal would ‘not give rise to any detrimental impacts, either singly or cumulatively’ apart from the fact that ‘it has not been demonstrated that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on wild land’. This conclusion is deeply worrying. It effectively creates a ‘buffer’ zone around wild land areas, reducing further the potential that this country has to create clean energy and sustainable communities. Where it is clear which areas are designated as Wild Land, it is totally open for discussion where a ‘buffer zone’ would start and end.”

The announcement of this decision comes at a time where the onshore wind industry has been badly bruised with other recent negative UK Government announcements, including the removal of the LEC, the early closure of the ROC and the continued uncertainty around the CfD.  This, combined with a hugely expensive and time consuming planning process, the outcome of which is entirely unpredictable and the fact that multi-million pound grid securities must be provided before planning consent is forthcoming, makes it now very difficult to provide a compelling business case to shareholders for further investment into renewable energy developments in the UK.

The wind farm would have provided the annual electricity needs for almost 45,000* homes each year, contributed over £360,000 a year or £9 million over the lifetime of the development  into the Caithness community, helped balance the decommissioning at the Dounreay nuclear facility, and could have made an important contribution to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Infinergy will now consider its options going forward with this project, and may seek judicial review.