TAIN and its surrounding villages could be set for a windfall to compensate for the visual blight of giant turbines off their coastline.
Community councillors, with help from local MP Jamie Stone, have successfully lobbied power firm SSE for the chance of securing grants for major projects in and around the royal burgh.
A community benefit fund linked to the multibillion-pound Beatrice Windfarm project is offering £6 million over five years, and individual grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 for worthy projects.
After some months of lobbying SSE to have Tain, Inver and Portmahomack qualify for grants, in line with east Sutherland coastal communities, council leaders said it had been accepted "based on visual impact".
They have commended Mr Stone for intervening on their behalf.
The council has posted online that "along with Edderton, all constituted community groups within the area will be able to apply to the upcoming third round of funding, commencing early 2018".
Tain Highland councillor Alasdair Rhind congratulated the lobbyists. He said: "It’s a very positive move and good that the fund holders are being more positive about it. I hope that positivity will continue and we’ll see future community benefit from that.
"Our community needs much investment at this tough economic time and any investment from any source will be most welcome.
"The Old Picture House, for example, is a major project for this community. The sports pavilion at the links is another that we’d like to take forward – there are two good examples of worthy causes."
The Beatrice Partnership fund is split between Highland (£4 million) and Moray (£2 million).
Its aim is to "empower fragile communities to become more resilient and to protect their vulnerable residents through measures which demonstrate long term social, environmental or economic improvements."
The purpose is to "stimulate meaningful regeneration through actions which improve or enhance local infrastructure, landscape, biodiversity, or heritage to make a lasting difference to the places we live, work and visit."
Bidders do not need to be a registered charity but the organisation must have a constitution.
The £2.6 billion Beatrice Offshore Windfarm (BOWL) project is a joint venture involving SSE (40 per cent), Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (35 per cent) and Red Rock Power (25 per cent).
The 84-turbine scheme in the Outer Moray Firth will generate power for about 450,000 homes – three times the current number in Highland and Moray.