East-west divide in wind power benefit

Image caption, Wind farm operators contribute to community funds

Communities in the west Highlands have not benefited in the same way from wind projects as those in the east, according to a council report.

Highland Council officers have suggested setting up a new community fund to spread more widely money contributed by wind scheme operators.

Officers said in terms of planning policy and access to the National Grid, the west had fewer farms.

The report will be considered by the full council on Thursday.

Officers have recommended setting up a new system to handle funds from wind farms and eventually marine and tidal energy projects.

At the moment 12 of the 21 wards, or areas, that make up the Highland Council region have no large-scale wind farms.

Under the new system, communities where schemes were located would get 60% of the money provided from operators, with the rest put in a pot for the benefit of the wider region.

Based on today's number of wind farms, £860,000 would be generated for those wards with projects and £575,000 for the benefit of the rest of the council area.

After a delay to allow proposed marine and tidal projects to become established, officers have suggested even more money could be generated for the proposed Pan-Highland Community Fund.

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