A controversial wind farm will go ahead after Scottish and Southern Energy defeated Perth and Kinross Council and were granted permission for a 16-turbine development at Drumderg, near Alyth, it was revealed yesterday.
A Scottish Executive reporter has found in SSE’s favour after a June public inquiry.
Earlier this summer there was a similar result for Scottish Power, which was given the go-ahead to build an 18-turbine wind farm at Greenknowes, near Auchterarder.
Construction of the 32-megawatt Drumderg wind farm is expected to begin later this year, with the wind farm commissioned in 2008 after an investment of around £30m.
The inquiry reporter made an award of expenses to SSE against the council. No figure has been given but a spokesperson confirmed the amount is “substantial”.
When the expenses are awarded SSE will invest the amount in energy and environment-related projects for communities in the Perth and Kinross Council area, the company insisted.
Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, said, “I am pleased that the Drumderg wind farm has finally received consent, although I remain disappointed that it has taken more than three years for this planning process to be completed.”
Mr Marchant added, “Our priorities now are to ensure that the construction work at Drumderg is carried out in a professional manner which reflects the concerns of local people and to secure consent to develop additional wind farms in other parts of Scotland.”
The council received almost 700 letters of objection when SSE first lodged plans for the wind farm.
At June’s public inquiry protesters lined up to speak against the plans, among them MSP Murdo Fraser, who lives in Alyth.
Last night he said, “I am extremely disappointed by the decision.
“Many people will be surprised and gutted by this news. There is huge local public opinion against this wind farm.
“I believe that the reporters unit that carried out the public inquiry into the appeal for the wind farm application has made the wrong decision, and that the businesses and the people of Perthshire will now see the consequences.
“The decision to let this wind farm be built underlines that there must be a major rethink into the current guidelines and policy on renewable energy.
“Drumderg wind farm application was rejected at the local level by Perth and Kinross Council and yet the Scottish Executive still overturned the decision.
“The decision to allow Drumderg wind farm to be built will leave a lasting scar on our landscape and that is something we may now have no option but to accept.”
Mr Fraser believes the wind farm will have a negative impact on an area heavily dependent on tourism.
Perth and Kinross councillors have steadfastly refused to agree to any wind farm in their area, refusing as many as 16 at the development control committee, sometimes against the advice of their own officials.
Now two of those controversial decisions have been overturned at council tax-payers’ expense.
Council leader Jimmy Doig, said, “Perth and Kinross Council”¦is currently considering the detail of the decision.”
Councillor Ian Miller, who represents the Alyth and Old Rattray ward, said, “The outcome of the appeal comes as no surprise.
“My main concern from the outset has been to try to ensure that safeguards were put in place to protect residents along the route to Drumderg from the impact of construction traffic.
“It is clear that the 50 or so additional planning conditions that I was successful in introducing to the proposal by deferral of the original application will now come into play.
“I therefore call on Scottish and Southern Energy to honour the commitments that they gave during the consultation period to ensure that the temporary impact during construction of the wind farm is minimised.”
John Swinney, MSP for North Tayside, said, “The reporter has rejected the view of Perth and Kinross Council and granted planning permission to the Drumderg wind farm.
“That decision has now been taken, but it is absolutely vital that as this project develops conditions are applied to protect the interests of the local community who will experience a great deal of disruption as a result.
“In the light of the approval of this and other applications in the Perthshire area there is no case at all for the approval of any further wind farms.
“Perthshire is already making its contribution to the wind energy targets and I urge the reporter looking at the Calliacher and Griffin wind farms to reject those applications.”
By Eric Nicolson and Paul Reoch
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