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NPower expert witness condemns council

A wind farm expert has launched a scathing attack on Perth and Kinross Council, accusing it of forcing massively costly public inquiries due to its own “inconsistent and flawed” grasp of planning guidelines.

Tax-payers are footing the bill for the controversial inquiry, which began at Glenfarg Hotel yesterday.

It has been convened to determine the fate of proposals for a 10-turbine wind farm at Snowgoat Glen near Dunning.

Explosive evidence given on behalf of applicant NPower Renewables Ltd accused the local authority of basing its controversial rejection of the plans on “a range of flaws” and “inconsistent methodology”.

Perth and Kinross Council had said plans for the wind farm were contrary to local planning policies.

However, that claim was yesterday hotly disputed by landscape architect Keith Horner.

Speaking at the inquiry, being heard by Scottish Executive reporter Karen Heywood, he poured scorn on the local authority’s decision to knock back the Snowgoat Glen application.

He said, “A landscape study on wind farm development in the Ochil Hills…forms a key contribution to the Perth and Kinross Council supplementary planning guidance and to the decision by them to refuse permission for the proposed Snowgoat Glen wind farm.

“In my consideration this study incorporates a range of inconsistencies and flaws in its approach and methodology.

“This precludes it from providing a sound basis for appropriately establishing the sensitivity and capacity of the Ochil Hills for wind farm development.”

Mr Horner insisted that, as such, the council’s reasons for refusal are untenable.

“I consider that the inherent flaws in the methodology adopted are such that the study cannot be considered to form a reliable basis upon which to guide strategic planning for wind farm development,” he said.

Furthermore, Mr Horner denied council claims that the Snowgoat Glen proposal would have a significantly detrimental impact on the local landscape.

He said the council’s mistaken interpretation of its own policies led to the rejection of the wind farm applications.

“The proposed wind farm would be located in excess of 5km from…an area of great landscape value and the settlement of Dunning,” he said.

“I consider that it would result in impacts which are not significant…consequently the proposed wind farm would be consistent with Perth and Kinross Council guidelines.”

Mr Horner also brushed aside concerns the wind farm would have an adverse impact on the luxury Gleneagles Hotel complex.

“The visual focus and principal views from the Gleneagles’ golf courses would not be undermined,” he said.

“Having undertaken an objective evaluation of the likely landscape and visual impacts of the proposed development, I respectfully request that the reporter allows this appeal.”

The public inquiry continues.

By Dave Lord