A £320 MILLION deal has been agreed to allow a 50-turbine wind farm to be built in southern Scotland.

Swedish state-owned Vattenfall has secured the backing of infrastructure fund Greencoat UK to develop the South Kyle site near Dalmellington.

Vattenfall already has planning permission in place for the scheme.

It is hoped the turbines, which will straddle the border between East Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, will be operational by 2023.

The company said the wind farm would provide enough electricity to meet the needs of 170,000 homes, generating a capacity of 240MW and a grid connection of 235MW.

It claimed the project showed its commitment to the UK, but added that the scheme might have to wait until there was “more clarity” on the coronavirus lockdown.

Frank Elsworth, Vattenfall’s head of market development for UK Onshore, said: “We are delighted that our agreement with Greencoat UK Wind means we can fulfil our commitments to the local community and contribute to major investment in the area. 

“Onshore wind in Scotland has the potential to make a significant contribution to reaching net zero and is the cheapest form of renewable energy generation that brings us closer to that goal.”

Carol Kane, local liaison officer for Vattenfall, added: “South Kyle Wind Farm will bring great opportunities with significant community benefit investment in the local area.

“Besides providing regular updates on the progress of the project, Vattenfall is also committed to engaging and working with local communities, particularly in relation to shaping the community benefit investment but also in supporting skills development, local supply chain and the environment.

“We look forward to working with the local community and will be sharing further information in the coming weeks.”

Vattenfall will construct the wind farm and manage it on behalf of Greencoat for a minimum of 10 years once operational.

It claims the site will save close to 300,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Greencoat said the development will help to support the local economy through the creation of new jobs, as well as providing £38m of direct investment into local schemes through its community benefit programme over the lifetime of the wind farm.

The firm, which already has a portfolio of 36 operating wind farms across the UK, said it was delighted to enter into the agreement which will see it pay Vattenfall £320m to build the site and run it for a decade.

Vattenfall will purchase the power for a period of 15 years.

Tim Ingram, chairman of Greencoat’s UK division, UKW, said: “We are delighted to enter into an agreement with Vattenfall, our fifth major utility partner. 

“South Kyle is in close proximity to a number of other wind farms already owned by Greencoat UK Wind, and we are confident it will be another high quality addition to our portfolio.”

Laurence Fumagalli, of Greencoat Capital LLP, added: “We are pleased with the transaction, which will bring a large scale subsidy free wind farm under our ownership. 

“While we continue to expect the majority of our portfolio to comprise ROC accredited assets, the scale of our portfolio and balance sheet allows us to acquire a combination of different types of UK wind farms, such as South Kyle, and thereby find best value for shareholders.”

Vattenfall said a timeline for construction of the site is yet to be confirmed.

A statement on its website read: “In line with UK government guidance to ensure the safety of employees amid the Covid-19 pandemic, construction of the wind farm will begin once it is appropriate to do so.

“Vattenfall is continuously monitoring precautions concerning Covid-19 and currently plan for the wind farm to be operational early 2023.”

The Swedish firm already has six other sites in Scotland, including The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre near Aberdeen, Aultmore in Banffshire, Ourack near Granton-on-Spey, Edinbane on the Isle of Skye, and Clashindarroch I & II in Aberdeenshire.

Greencoat is involved in seven sites throughout Scotland, including in the Scottish Borders, South Lanarkshire, the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Stirlingshire.