Fears that the Ochils, south of Perth, could become an “industrial wasteland” thanks to five sprawling complexes were banished after the development control committee maintained its 100% refusal record.
ScottishPower’s 18-turbine complex at Greenknowes, near Auchterarder, which had been mooted by planning officials as worthy of support, was rejected on the grounds it contravened policies, plans and guidelines.
Plans by npower for 12 turbines at Lochelbank, by Glenfarg, and 10 at Snowgoat Glen, near Dunning, and West Coast Energy’s 14-turbine Mellock Hill scheme were turned down without debate by Perth and Kinross councillors. A farm diversification scheme which would have seen five turbines at Tillyrie Farm, near Milnathort, were also thrown out, although there was an indication that smaller turbines may have been considered.
There have now been 16 separate applications objected to or rejected by the committee, raising fears with at least one member that the Scottish Executive could soon step in.
Over 100 people packed into the Gannochy Suite at Dewars Centre to hear and participate in the latest deliberations and the by now familiar arguments between developers and objectors were again fully aired during the five-hour meeting.
A raft of objectors from among the 100-strong crowd complained about the visual impact, environmental effect, disruption to water courses and wildlife, noise and the effect on users of the hills.
They included representatives from the Friends of the Ochils group, the Ramblers’ Association, residents and regular visitors.
The developers argued not only would their projects save the planet, they would create jobs, wealth and community schemes.
As so often before however, the plans did not meet the exacting demands of Perth and Kinross Council’s numerous planning and wind farm guidelines.
Crucially, the Greenknowes scheme—the only one with a realistic chance of proceeding in its current form—was also slated by the council’s planning consultants, who said it was too large for the location.
This, despite it being significantly altered and scaled-back from an original proposal at the committee’s suggestion.
Moving refusal, committee convener, Councillor Bob Lumsden said, “I still have great concerns about the landscape consultants’ advice not being taken totally into consideration.
“I realise planners are in a very difficult position but the consultants state with regard to the proposed wind farm on landscape quality is…considered it remains contrary to a number of policies.”
He was backed by Councillor Sandy Bushby who added, “I believe the landscape and visual impact would be too great here and when you read the consultants’ report they say the location is inappropriate.
“I also believe it goes against our own wind energy guidelines.”
Councillor John Hulbert was defeated in his attempt to have the plan approved but had already warned the committee not to give into “highly vocal NIMBY protest” and warned the Scottish Executive will soon get fed up of the authority refusing wind farm applications.
He said Perth and Kinross is the only area without a wind farm or an approved plan.
The committee agreed smaller scale plans, such as that suggested for Tillyrie, were more desirable but that particular scheme remained far from ideal. Speaking after the meeting, a relieved Alison Grave of the Wind Farms Awareness Group said, “The level of community knowledge and involvement in opposing these schemes has been exceptional and has helped bring about today’s result.”
Dave Morris, director of Ramblers’ Association Scotland, said, “This is a great decision on the day that the government launches its energy review. The message to our Holyrood and Westminster politicians could not be clearer—the people of Scotland do not want these monster turbines and pylons imposed on our world famous landscapes.”
The power companies must now decide whether they will appeal the decisions and were considering their positions last night.
ScottishPower must also decide whether to appeal yesterday’s decision or press ahead with a separate appeal against the non- determination of their larger, original plan for Greenknowes.
The decision was not greeted with wholesale pleasure as Green Party MSP Mark Ruskell showed.
He said, “Perth and Kinross councillors have today confirmed their reputation for burying their heads in the sand and wishing that wind farms and climate change were not a reality that they need to take responsible decisions on.”
He added, “With this blanket opposition to every wind farm proposal put before them councillors are now rubbishing their own locational strategy for wind farms.”