A controversial £74million green energy scheme in Speyside will proceed after the UK Government provided their financial backing.
The new biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility at Craigellachie will generate power for more than 20,000 homes – but people living in the area strongly opposed the plan when it went to Moray Councillors last year.
A narrow 7-6 majority saw planning approval granted despite 131 objections having been received for the plant that will also provide power for the local Macallan distillery and is expected to provide over 100 construction jobs and 23 permanent posts.
The leader of Moray Council, Allan Wright, hailed the financial backing from Holyrood as “excellent news”, insisting that it gave further evidence of the “confidence that a range of industries have in the future economic development of Moray”.
But local reside Heidi Sands said she was saddened by the news, adding: “Although the plant may look good on paper the results may prove to be otherwise.”
An announcement from the Treasury yesterday confirmed that alongside the £13.5million investment from developer John Laing, the government’s green investment bank would contribute £13million while a further £48million will come in the form of debt raised from the bond market and guaranteed by the Treasury.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said: “The Speyside guarantee is fantastic news for Scotland’s economic future.”
The CHP facility was a component of plans to build a new £100million production facility and visitor centre at the Macallan Distillery, with general manager of distillation saying: “We are delighted to have received planning permission for our new distillery from Moray Council – which in turn has enabled the Estover project to move forward.
“The new distillery, which will benefit from heat generated, is creating further employment opportunities through the commencement of this project in addition to delivering environmental and economic benefits.”
Moray’s MP Angus Robertson welcomed the government investment, saying: “This level of investment is hugely significant for any area but especially for areas like rural Speyside.
“This comes on the back of hundreds of millions of pounds being invested in multiple distillery sites and it bodes very well for the economic future of Moray Speyside.”
Speyside Glenlivet councillor and leader of the SNP opposition at Moray Council, Pearl Paul, added the new plan will aid local job prospects for young people. She said: “It is critically important that we have job prospects for young folk in our rural communities if those communities are to be sustainable into the future.
“This type of investment certainly helps to boost those prospects and give young folk the opportunities many of them want to live and work where they have been brought up. I very much welcome this boost.”