In September 2019 NatureScot brought together a group of wind farm developers and operators with South Lanarkshire Council and East Ayrshire Council to discuss how we could collaborate on the future development of wind farms in the Hagshaw energy cluster. The cluster is located between the communities of Coalburn, Douglas and Muirkirk, to the west of the M74. We engaged with Historic Scotland, SEPA and Scottish Forestry and a range of consultants involved in the cluster and we scoped out the topics on which we wanted to collaborate.
The cluster has grown organically since the Hagshaw Hill wind farm was commissioned in 1995. There are now five wind farms in the cluster, producing over 380 MW of clean energy, with new wind farms and extensions in the planning process.
A further four projects have been consented, with the potential to add 200MW to the cluster. Hagshaw Hill has been through the development process to repower and was granted consent in February 2020. This means that the cluster contains wind farms at every stage in their life cycle from operational, consented, proposed and soon to be repowered, making it the ideal location to pilot a new approach.
Two years on, the group are working together to produce a Development Framework for the cluster, with four key aims:
- Deliver a low carbon future for the communities in the area;
- Maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits of development within the cluster;
- Maximise the renewable energy potential of the cluster, from a range of technologies such as solar, energy storage and green hydrogen production in addition to onshore wind; and
- Minimise the impacts of development on the environment and communities.
The Framework is being funded by:
- 3R energy
- Scottish Power Renewables
- Ventient Energy Ltd
- Cumberhead Wind Energy Ltd.
In June 2021 we commissioned LUC, working with Biggar economics, RPS and Star Development Group to prepare the Framework and engage with communities, local businesses and wider stakeholders to shape the framework. The public engagement process will run through September and October this year, with a view to producing the final version of the Framework in December.
By the time we meet at All-Energy in May 2022 we anticipate that the Framework will have been adopted by the two councils and will have started to deliver investment in the communities around the cluster. It will help guide the future development of the cluster and streamline the application process, helping to deliver a just transition to net zero, and investing in nature based solutions at a landscape scale. This is a new, place-based approach to wind energy which will deliver on the full social, economic and environmental potential of renewables.
Our main priorities for investment are:
- Local towns and villages;
- Active travel and recreation infrastructure;
- Strategic active travel links between communities;
- Low carbon infrastructure such as electric vehicle charge points and other renewable energy infrastructure;
- New visitor infrastructure to attract people to the area; and
- New business and supply chain opportunities emerging from development in the cluster.
We look forward to sharing our achievements with you at All-Energy in May 2022.