October 4, 2006

Sutherland councillors in windfarm ruling fight

Sutherland councillors are challenging a Highland Council planning committee decision to approve plans for a windfarm on land belonging to Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed.

The application by Airtricity Developments (UK) Ltd for permission to erect 23 turbines at Beinn Rosail, Invercassley, Strath Oykel, By Lairg, in central Sutherland, was granted planning permission against the recommendation of council officers.

The decision was also made in face of opposition from the three local community councils.

All six members of the Sutherland County Committee were opposed and the three Sutherland members eligible to vote at the meeting of the planning, development, Europe and tourism committee in Lairg on Friday of last week all voted against.

But the application for the turbines, measuring 328ft to blade tip and producing up to 46MW, was approved by a majority of 12 votes to six.

Sutherland councillors are now keen to get the decision overturned.

They say such a move would be in line with the officers recommendation because of its potential impact on a National Scenic Area.

It also points out that there are unresolved objections of a serious nature which impact seriously on the amenity of the area; the three community councils at Creich, Ardgay and Lairg objected; and the potential impact on the infrastructure following the development.

Area convener Francis Keith said: “It is not unusual for councillors to lodge a notice of amendment. The thing that is unusual here is that all the Sutherland councillors were against.

“There are some councillors who are totally obsessed with renewable energy come hell or high water and they don’t care whether local members are in favour or not.”

The motion to approve the Invercassley development was proposed by Councillor Clive Goodman and seconded by Councillor Jimmy Gray.

Mr Keith said the notice of amendment was to be lodged at council headquarters in Inverness today by Highland Council convener Alison Magee, who is also the local member for central Sutherland. The Invercassley application was one of three windfarm applications being considered at the meeting last Friday.

Officers recommended approval of just one – a 19-turbine development by E.On UK Renewables Ltd at Rosehall Hill Forest.

The two recommended for refusal were the Invercassley development and an application by SSE for 23 turbines at Achany Estate, Lairg.

The committee followed the officers’ recommendation on the Rosehall and Achany applications, but went against the recommendation on the Invercassley proposal.

A Highland Council spokeswoman yesterday said the notice of amendment would be considered at the next meeting of the full council on October 26 or a special full council meeting could be called.

Gordon Robertson, who is estate manager for Mr Al Fayed’s Balnagown Estates, said the Harrods chairman had been pleased when the application was approved and would be disappointed to hear that it was being challenged.

He added: “The planning committee is democratically elected. They spent a lot of time the day before inspecting the sites and, as a planning committee, came up with the decision. If those who don’t like the decision have the right to appeal so be it – let the due appeal process take its course.”

By Sue Restan


URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2006/10/04/sutherland-councillors-in-windfarm-ruling-fight/