Highland councillors are being urged to refuse Amec’s controversial proposals for a windfarm at Edinbane on Skye at a meeting on Friday because of concerns about its possible effects on the local area.
Scottish Natural Heritage this month lodged a holding objection to the proposed 18-turbine project.
It claimed the required environmental statement commissioned by the power giant had “lost its cohesion due to the number of submissions and revisions” and that its research into the potential risk for golden eagles and other species “lacks transparency.”
Council planning chiefs have subsequently recommended refusal on the ground that the proposals could have “a significantly detrimental impact upon designated habitats and species”.
They also warn that the planning bid could breach the conditions of the Cuillins’ qualification as a Special Protection Area (SPA).
There is also concern that appropriate assessment of the impact on the qualifying interests of the European site “has not been adequately carried out.”
David Hodkinson, managing director of Amec’s wind energy business, said SNH’s “last minute” holding objection, based on their concerns about the possible effects of an Edinbane windfarm on golden eagles of the Cuillins SPA, “appears to be the only matter driving the council planners to recommend refusal”.
Skye Windfarm Action Group (Swag) chairman John Hodgson said he was pleased with the recommendation and trusted that councillors would abide by their officers’ decision at the hearing.
After 13 years of discussion and planning, approval was previously widely thought to be likely on Friday. SNH’s intervention could delay things by months, possibly years.
Amec’s proposals for 330ft-high turbines, 1.5miles south of Edinbane, had already been scaled down from 27 turbines.
The council has had 654 letters and an 812-signature petition objecting to the planning application on grounds ranging from national policy to visual impact and the effects of the proposal on tourism and bird life.
SNH and the RSPB are among the objectors. Amec’s proposals have attracted just 120 letters of support.
A spokesman for SNH said yesterday: “Our role is to provide advice on issues which may effect the natural heritage. This is entirely a matter for local members (councillors) and council officials.”
The Portree hearing, costing council taxpayers thousands of pounds in planning, travel and accommodation costs, will start with a site visit followed by an afternoon debate.
By Iain Ramage
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