At the North Planning Applications Committee of The Highland Council on Tuesday the 7th December councillors voted unanimously to allow the Limekiln project variation application to move to the final decision-making stage with the Scottish Government Ministers. The decision, which will see two of the 21 turbines removed from the wind farm at Limekiln, south of Reay in Caithness will allow the application to progress unopposed by statutory consultees. As well as the removal of two turbines, the variation to the current consent seeks to bring a number of improvements to the project, including a revised track design, allowing improved access during the construction works to the core path network and an increase in tip heights to unlock full wind potential and proper alignment with the neighbouring Limekiln Wind Farm Extension project.

Esbjörn Wilmar, Managing Director of Infinergy said: “I am delighted that The Highland Council has taken such a positive decision. The revised scheme will see increased benefits to the local area, not only in terms of access around the site but in terms of increased community benefits. The communities of Caithness are some of those most in need of such benefits in the country and we are very pleased that Members recognised how projects such as Limekiln can contribute during their debate.”

More energy produced despite fewer turbines

“While we are looking to improve the track design, we are also looking to increase the energy yield from the windfarm by increasing tip heights in line with our Limekiln Extension project and applying state-of-the-art turbine technology. Even with two less turbines, this variation will still allow us to generate more renewable energy than the existing consented scheme.” continued Mr Wilmar. “We now await both the outcome from the Limekiln Wind Farm Extension public inquiry and the Minister’s decision on this variation application which will then, if both are successful, be built as one development. In turn this will reduce the overall disruption during the construction stage. The increase in energy production and further optimizing the design of the site will also enhance the economics of the projects.”

Limekiln Wind Farm at a glance

Enabling works have already been completed following the original 2019 Limekiln Wind Farm consent and onsite felling continues this year to ensure the site is set to promptly move forward again. Felling work is expected to last until the spring of 2022. Delaying the main construction contracts will allow the separate forestry work to proceed unhindered. Subject to consent being awarded, the operational date for Limekiln Wind Farm is expected to now be late 2024 at the earliest. Together with the Limekiln Extension proposal, the wind farm has a grid connection contract in place for 106 MW.

Located 2.8km South/Southwest of Dounreay Power Station, the proposal going forward to Ministers will now consist of 19 turbines and will provide sufficient electricity to meet the needs of at least 74,000 homes based on the average generation mix of UK power sources.

Limekiln Wind Farm comes with the industry standard community benefit fund of £5,000 per MW of installed capacity, equating to almost £400,000 per year (based on 4.2 MW turbines). In addition, up to 10% of the project will be made available to the local community as a shared ownership opportunity, giving the potential to increase the economic value of the wind farm across Caithness.

Infinergy and Boralex announced the execution of a 50-50 joint venture agreement in October 2017, aimed at developing a pipeline of onshore wind projects, including the Limekiln Wind Farm project, essentially located in Scotland for a total estimated capacity of 325 MW.