SCOTTISH energy minister Paul Wheelhouse has given the go-ahead for a new 10-turbine wind farm in the Highlands which is forecast to power almost 20,000 homes and generate a community benefit of up to £4 million.

The Millennium South site, five miles west of Fort Augustus, is part of the currently-operational Millennium Wind Farm.

Italian company Falck Renewables Wind is behind the project, and has said the benefit will be divided equally between local communities.

The project is estimated to support the creation of up to 50 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs during construction, but only one or two when it becomes operational. Its generating capacity will be around 35MW.

Millennium South was granted planning approval following a public inquiry, which found that consent should be given.

Wheelhouse, who accepted the inquiry findings, said: “Once operational, Millennium South wind farm will generate up to £4m in community benefit, while producing enough electricity to power almost 20,000 homes and bringing jobs and investment to local communities. Renewable energy sources generated a record 56.7 per cent of gross electricity consumption in Scotland in 2015, helping support our world-leading ambitions to become a low-carbon economy.

“The growth of onshore wind in recent years has been a key factor in the expansion of renewable energy in Scotland: creating jobs, providing secure and low-carbon energy and delivering significant local benefits and it will remain a key contributor to our continued transition to a low carbon energy system, supported by a range of renewable energy technologies.”

News of the expansion came as Community Windpower Ltd (CWL) announced the advance order of Scottish steel turbine towers from CS Wind UK’s plant at Campbeltown.

It has ordered the towers in collaboration with Vestas for their Sanquhar Community wind farm, work which will help to fill a production gap in CS Wind’s work schedule.

Pre-ordering the towers at this stage – they are not due on site in Sanquhar until August – represents somewhat unusual flexibility, but CWL said it further reinforces its commitment to CV Wind and the Scottish onshore wind supply chain.

The company said it was also committed to ordering 45 tower sections from CS Wind for another of its developments, at Sneddon Law, near Moscow, in Ayrshire.

Rod Wood, CWL’s managing director said: “We are delighted to have been able to facilitate this early order and understand the positive impact this will have on the production pipeline at CS Wind UK. We are especially pleased continuing our long term relationship with CS Wind UK, particularly given the uncertainty in the renewables sector at present.”

CS Wind’s UK sales team manager, Lesley Black, added: “We are delighted to have signed another order to supply towers for a Community Windpower project – 2017 is a challenging year for UK onshore tower manufacturers with competition and low prices coming from imported towers and a large number of onshore projects being delayed or cancelled altogether.

“The support from Community Windpower to secure this order to be manufactured in Scotland and their working together with Vestas to bring the timing of the project forward to help with any order gaps, is invaluable.”