An Orkney firm is being accused of cocking a snook at local public opinion through its second attempt to win the green light for a small windfarm in west Caithness.
Scotrenewables earlier this year lost its appeal against the refusal of planning consent for three turbines near the top of the Hill of Lieurary, overlooking Loch Calder.
The decision was welcomed by the 40 local residents who objected to what they claimed would be a prominent blot on the landscape.
They were surprised when the firm last month submitted a new application for two smaller turbines on a new site, further down the hill and away from the loch.
The objectors have swung their campaign back into action after a public meeting at the weekend revealed unanimous opposition to the revised plan.
Lieurary resident Rhona Manson was one of the 30 people who attended the meeting arranged by Caithness West Community Council.
The 36-year-old mother-of-three asked: “Does it not seem absolutely crazy that we’re here again and having to go through the same process again?
“They (Scotrenewables) obviously have no regard for local people’s opinions on windfarms after the last send-off they got. It’s ironic that they make great play of calling themselves a local company, but they seem to ignore what local people say.”
The previous £3.5million development was knocked back as it was deemed it would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape. The new application involves two turbines with a blade-tip height of 90 metres – 26 metres shorter than the original plan.
Each capable of producing two megawatts of electricity, they would be located 40m further down the hill. The firm claims the new plan means the impact of the turbines would be minimal, especially when set alongside two much larger-scale developments planned at Baillie and Shebster.
Denise Brown questioned whether Scotrenewables had carried out a new study on the bird-strike potential of the turbines in their revised location.
She is particularly concerned about the threat they would pose to whooper swans coming and going from Loch Calder.
Scotrenewables managing and technical director Barry Johnston yesterday denied his firm was oblivious to local opinion.
“The objection last time was that the turbines would be unduly prominent in the landscape. The new scheme involves a reduction in three to two turbines and nine to four megawatts, as well as moving to a site much further down the hill,” he said.
By Iain Grant
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