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Wind farm 'scar' on area's beauty

Opposition to two Perthshire wind farms has gained the support of MSP Murdo Fraser.

The Tory politician, who represents Mid-Scotland and Fife, yesterday told a public inquiry at Amulree village hall he backs Perth and Kinross Council’s rejection of the application by GreenPower to build 68 turbines at Griffin Forest, near Dunkeld, and also a plan to build 27 turbines at Calliacher, near Aberfeldy.

He said, “The tourism industry throughout Perthshire accounts for about 15% of all employment in the area. When tourism comprises such a large proportion of employment, it can be deemed as not only very important, but essential.

“Whilst the contractors are to be commended for reducing the proposed total number of turbines from 128″¦this is still 95 too many on our rural landscape.

“The vast majority of studies I have come across, even undertaken within the pro-wind lobby, still arrive at the conclusion that wind farms could harm tourism.

“The Griffin Forest proposal will be around 22 kilometres from Schiehallion. Whilst viewing Schiehallion from Birnam Hill, another popular tourist spot, the wind farm will clearly be in line of sight.

“Considering the Heritage Lottery Fund gave £500,000 to clear the old path on Schiehallion for aesthetic effect, will that not be money wasted if another visible scar, namely a wind farm, is there to take its place?”

And Mr Fraser told the inquiry that he has grave concerns over the traffic implications on the areas in question.

He added, “For the duration of construction, heavy goods vehicles, HGVs, containing materials would be required to travel north along the A9 from Perth, then turn left onto the A822 at Dunkeld.

“Whilst I commend the developers for promising to improve the A822 to make it a more suitable road for HGVs”¦there remain other important issues.

“The Griffin Wind Farm Construction Traffic Review shows that for this development, GreenPower would need to make a total of around 54,500 journeys to and from the site during the 18 months of construction, including at least 476 abnormal loads of which some would be at least 47 metres long. These journeys would almost entirely include travelling on the A9 between Perth and the A822 junction at Dunkeld.

“The review states that on the busiest day, 59 HGVs would be required to enter and then leave the construction site. The Traffic Impact Considerations document by SIAS transport planners for the Calliachar wind farm explains that I&H Brown would require, on average, 115 vehicles to enter or leave the site each working weekday for the seven month development.

“This would include around 47 HGVs arriving and then leaving the construction site each day. Based on a five-day working week, this would result in a total of 24,150 vehicles entering and leaving the construction site, including 81 abnormal loads of at least 41 metres.

“Is this further congestion really viable? Given that the A9 between Perth and Dunkeld is not dual carriageway for its entirety, this would result in severe tailbacks.

“Aside from any issues regarding keeping this main trunk road moving at a reasonable speed, it would only increase frustration of other road users”¦We cannot risk increasing the massive fatality rate on the A9 even further. Both developments will have a detrimental effect”¦including potentially catastrophic effects on both the local tourism industry and road network.”

By Paul Reoch