A Law lord has lost his fight to stop a windfarm being built next to his Perthshire holiday home.
Lord Hope of Craighead, a respected ornithologist, had argued 16 turbines planned for the hillside of Drumderg, near Bridge of Cally, would pose a threat to a rare and protected group of ospreys.
Yesterday, a Scottish Executive reporter dismissed his claims and allowed the £30m development to go ahead.
Lord Hope – who took his name Craighead from his cottage near Drumderg – had used 35 years of observations, all carefully documented, to show the planned windfarm would be on the flightpath between the nesting and feeding sites of ospreys, putting the birds at risk.
Lord Hope told a public inquiry earlier this summer: “I had a lot of experience of planning inquiries in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s every developer’s nightmare that somebody will emerge from the heather with a point. You don’t want to grapple with them.”
His records were never disputed. But scientists employed by Scottish and Southern, the electricity giant behind the windfarm plans, said they did not endanger the birds.
The independent reporter, Malcolm Malony, agreed. “I’m satisfied,” he said in his report, “that the osprey collision risk is low and is not such as to justify refusal of the proposal.”
Perth and Kinross Council, which twice refused planning permission to Scottish and Southern, now faces the bill for the whole public inquiry after the developer sought costs.
Jimmy Doig, council leader, said: “The council has received notification of the Scottish Executive reporter’s decision regarding the Drumderg windfarm proposal and is considering the detail of the decision.”
Local campaigners will also be left out of pocket. They spent £100,000 arguing against the windfarm. One, Sylvia Thorne, said the community was shocked by the reporter’s decision. “We haven’t taken it in yet. Our views have been cast aside. There seems to be no respect for local people and their knowledge and experience of the area.”
Scottish and Southern’s chief executive, Ian Marchant, welomed the decision, but added: “I remain disapointed it has taken more than three years for this planning process to be completed. Our priorities now are to ensure the construction work at Drumderg is carried out in a professional manner which reflects the concerns of local people.”
By David Leask
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