COMMUNITY groups in New Cumnock and the surrounding area are set for a windfall of more than £400,000 a year from a new wind farm in the area.

Invenergy is understood to have signed a 'memorandum of understanding' for the Pencloe wind farm project near New Cumnock for the distribution and management of community benefit funds once the wind farm is in operation.

The agreement has been signed with the 9CC Group - comprising nine community councils in the Cumnock and Doon Valley area.

Scottish ministers granted consent for the project - featuring 19 turbines up to 125 metres tall to the tip of the blade, along with associated infrastructure - in December 2018.

READ MORE: New group officially launches to benefit communities

The following year an application was submitted asking for permission to increase the turbines' height to a maximum of 149 metres.

That application was approved by the Scottish Government in August 2021, and Invenergy is now preparing to start construction work.

A community benefit fund of £5,000 per megawatt (MW) per annum has been agreed with local communities - set to be around £427,000 per year.

The benefit fund will be managed by the 9CC group to ensure the cash is distributed fairly around the community.Cumnock Chronicle: The group launched at a Dumfries House event.The group launched at a Dumfries House event. (Image: 9CC Group.)

It's now been revealed that the community benefit funds will be index-linked - meaning the sum will rise in line with inflation throughout the lifetime of the project.

Stuart Winter, vice-president and UK country manager of Invenergy, said; "Pencloe wind farm has committed to providing community benefit of £5,000 per MW annually (index linked) to communities in the local area.

"Based on the 2018 consent, our annual fund would equate to £427,500. This funding, managed by the 9CC, could lead to transformational change within the local area during the lifespan of the project."

The Pencloe proposals sparked an angry response from the community council in New Cumnock when they were unveiled back in 2017, but still secured approval the following year.

Invenergy's headquarters are in the USA, but the group, and its affiliated companies, develop, own and operate large-scale sustainable energy generation and storage facilities in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Alex Baird, chairman of the 9CC Group, added: "Following our official 9CC launch in October, we are delighted that Pencloe is the second of many projects we will sign an MoU for to give us an awareness and security of future funds into the area.

"The 9CC Group was established to join forces of all community councils within the wider area with the aim to become a dedicated single Trust for wind farm developments and future community benefits in the area, which are set to be of a major scale across coming years."

Mr Baird continued: "The 9CC Group aims to ensure fair distribution of wind farm community benefits funds borne out of these developments.

"We have a real opportunity here to create transformational change within the area and I hope to be able to lead the right team to the right decisions on how we improve this place we all call home."

The 9CC group comprises the community councils in Auchinleck, Cumnock, Netherthird, New Cumnock, Dalmellington and Patna, as well as those in Cronberry, Logan and Lugar; Drongan, Rankinston and Stair; and Ochiltree and Skares.