Off to a flying start at Burn of Whilk Wind Farm!

The past, present and future come together as pupil from Thrumster Primary School wins wind farm flag competition at opening ceremony

Today (Tuesday 15th September 2015), members of the community, special guests – sustainability expert Leo Johnson and Andy Heald of AOC Archaeology, local school children and Eneco celebrated the opening of the 22.5MW Burn of Whilk Wind Farm.

The project located off the A99, was acquired by Eneco at the beginning of 2014. It comprises nine 2.5MW Nordex turbines on previously owned Forestry Commission land. The wind farm was constructed after a 14 month build period which involved Scottish contractors including I&H Brown, RTS Forestry Ltd, MM Millers and Budge Formwork totalling more than £8m in contracts for Scottish companies.

Over this time Eneco has worked closely with the community regarding how the pledged benefit fund from the wind farm will be invested, this totals £5,000 per installed MW throughout the lifetime of the wind farm. In response to requests to ensure that this investment creates a lasting legacy, a community working group comprising representatives from Tannach & District and Latheron, Lybster and Clyth Community Councils has been established. This group has been working with Eneco to create an educational foundation that will provide grants and bursaries to local residents young and old. It is anticipated that this initiative will launch in Spring 2016.

Another significant area of activity has been further understanding the unique surrounding archaeological landscape to the wind farm. As well as fulfilling planning obligations to the Yarrows Heritage Trail to enhance the visitor experience, Eneco has been passionate about supporting archaeology in the Caithness area and has sponsored the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the start of the first excavations of the Yarrows. At the opening ceremony, to ensure that the story of ancient landscape was told alongside the story of the new landscape created by the wind farm; Andy Heald of AOC archaeology who is closely connected to the Yarrows Heritage Trust attended and gave a headline speech.

To further connect the past with the present and present with the future, to commemorate the opening of the project, local schools provided designs for a flag that will be stationed at the entrance to the wind farm. With the help of the John O’Groats Journal, three runners up were shortlisted, these were Eva Robertson and Tegan Jackson from Lybster Primary School and Emma Cowie from Thrumster Primary School. The overall winner, Emma Cowie was given the honour of helping sustainability expert, Leo Johnson to bury a time-capsule at the base of turbine T103 that future pupils of Thrumster and Lybster Primary Schools will unveil in 25 years when the wind farm is decommissioned.

Guy Madgwick, Managing Director of Eneco said: “Burn of Whilk is an important step for Eneco’s growing portfolio in the Scottish Highlands. It is good to see that the success of Eneco’s wind farms in Scotland has paved the way for not only Burn of Whilk but also our other investments including the Lochluichart Wind Farm commissioned last year and Moy Wind Farm which will open in 2016, also located in the Scottish Highlands. These represent significant steps towards Eneco’s vision of making sustainable energy available for all.”

Zoisa Walton, Business Development Director of Eneco said: “The Burn of Whilk wind farm is a significant achievement in Eneco’s ambition to create sustainable energy for Scotland. This project is a result of the positive relationships fostered with the community. Building on this success, we continue to work with the local community and we are looking forward to seeing the community benefit fund making a positive difference to the area.”