Highland councillors approved applications for two windfarms in central Sutherland but turned down a third yesterday.
The planning development, Europe and tourism committee approved a 19-turbine development by E.On UK Renewables Ltd at Rosehall Hill Forest and 23 turbines on land owned by Harrods chairman Mohamed Al Fayed at Beinn Rosail, Invercassley, Strath Oykel by Airtricity Developments (UK) Ltd.
But an application for 23 turbines at Achany estate, Lairg by SSE was rejected.
All three applications drew objections, including petitions from neighbouring residents, concerning the cumulative effects on visual amenity and landscape character.
The committee accepted the recommendation of John Rennilson, Planning and Development Director, to refuse permission for the developments at Achany Estate, Lairg, but accepted a motion to approve developments by councillor Clive Goodman and seconded by councillor Jimmy Gray to approve development at Invercassley, Strath Oykel.
They also accepted the recommendation to approve, subject to legal agreement and 44 planning conditions, the development at Rosehall Hill Forest, Rosehall.
Highland Renewable Energy Group, representing supply chain businesses throughout the region yesterday warmly welcomed the council’s decision.
Secretary of the group Bill McAllister said: “This is highly encouraging news and sends a positive signal to those major companies we are lobbying to come to the Highlands and manufacture turbines and towers for wind developments.”
“These are the first approvals since the Council’s new Renewable Energy Strategy accepted local content as a valid consideration for planning consent, something companies in this area see as crucially important.
“The jobs and skills development opportunities arising from Invercassley and Rosehall should be significant and we’ve found Airtricity and E.On very positive in this regard. As for the refusal of the Scottish & Southern Energy application, we wait to see if there is an appeal.”
Local residents had claimed that the local economy would be adversely affected by the windfarms.
Objections to all three windfarms focused on the landscape and the visual impact of the developments, the perceived lack of an overall policy for the location of the windfarms and the effect of the proposals on birds, on health issues, tourism and transportation issues.
By Eilidh Davies
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