IRELAND’S state electricity board is behind a plan to build a 91mw wind farm in the Highlands. It is the latest project by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), which has been quietly amassing wind power plants in Scotland.

The National can reveal it is behind the plan being promoted by Coriolis Energy in a project that will see 19 turbines, each more than 500ft tall built in Ross-shire.

ESB and Glasgow-based Coriolis already have two wind farms, at Blarghour in Argyll and Glendye in Aberdeenshire, and there are plans for more investment by 95 per cent state-owned ESB in Scotland, which contrasts strongly with the UK Government’s failure to back onshore wind energy in Scotland.

The Kirkan development will be built less than four miles north-west of the village of Garve in and will extend the existing Lochluichart and Corriemoillie wind farms.

The National understands the project is at the “scoping” stage but people living in the area have been told of the development.

Renewables industry publication ReNews said ESB “is trying to add more renewables into its fuel mix and sees significant opportunity to grow its onshore wind business in Scotland”.

ESB said: “The current ESB strat-egy has identified the need to continue to grow a generation business of scale in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK electricity markets so it can compete.

“Recognising the long-term imper-ative to decarbonise society, ESB is investing to reduce the carbon intens-ity of its power generation plant and increase the role of renewable energy.”

According to The Voice of Renew-ables publication: “The company is also looking to develop projects in solar, waste-to-energy, biomass and offshore wind among other areas.

“It recently took a stake in an offshore wind farm off the coast of Suffolk in the east of Britain.

“That came after the company last year put out a tender looking for “the provision of renewable energy marine services related to offshore wind farms”.

“It said it had a pipeline with multiple projects being looked at. It has recently appointed a new renewables business development team to work in the UK, with a particular focus on Scotland, to complement its ambitions to grow renewables in Ireland.”

The news of Irish investment came on the day MSPs from across the political spectrum came together with workers from the onshore wind industry outside the Scottish Parliament to back Scotland’s sector.

Apprentices technicians, fabric-ators, managers and solicitors whose jobs rely on new onshore wind developments called for backing from Scotland’s politicians for further development of projects.

Lindsay McQuade, CEO of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Onshore wind supports thousands of jobs in Scotland, with billions of pounds of investment going to Scottish firms.

“It is the cheapest form of new electricity generation in the UK, and future projects could deliver even greater benefits.

“With the support of more than three-quarters of the public, and many politicians from all parties, we hope that onshore wind will continue to help power Scotland’s economy.”