December 8, 2006

Giant turbines would hit Ochil views inquiry hears

Controversial plans for 10 giant wind turbines in the scenic Ochil Hills would have “major adverse effects on visual amenity,” particularly the views from the King’s Golf Course at world-famous Gleneagles Hotel.

It would also impact on the nearby village of Dunning and other viewpoints in Strathearn, according to David Tyldesley, principal of Edinburgh-based planning and environmental consultants David Tyldesley Associates.

And he added: “Mitigation measures would have little effect in reducing these impacts.” He was giving evidence at the inquiry, held in the Glenfarg Hotel, on behalf of Perth and Kinross Council.

The inquiry was triggered after the council threw out plans by NPower Renewables Ltd. to erect the 91-metre high turbines, and ancillary equipment, on land at Snowgoat Glen, near Dunning. It is being chaired by Scottish Executive Reporter Karen Heywood.

Mr Tyldesley described the Ochils as “an extremely prominent locally dominant hill range.”

And he added: “They are one of the most noticeable features in views from some of Scotland’s principal rail and road corridors and form the conspicuous backdrop to, or focal point of views from, innumerable settlements.

“The Ochils have important relationships with iconic viewpoints and landmarks, including Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and Gleneagles Golf Course and hotel area, which probably makes them one of the most photographed and otherwise observed and recorded hill ranges in Scotland.

“They are also of considerable importance for recreation for large numbers of people. The skyline, formed by the summits, ridgelines, shoulders and upper slopes of the Ochils are, therefore, of considerable importance and particularly distinctive.

“I consider that the Ochil Hills, although not designated at national level, are of similar importance to the hills of the boundary fault. They ought to be protected from significant adverse effects on their landscape character and visual amenity.”

Mr Tyldesley explained that the Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Courses Designed Landscape were located about seven kilometres north of the proposed development.

He added: “The designated area includes Gleneagles Hotel and its grounds, the parkland and three golf courses. The designed landscape and views from are seen in television broadcasts throughout the world, as the setting of sporting events.

“The designed landscape is noted for its dramatic scenery and views in all directions. Given the importance of the views to the original location and design of the hotel, gardens and golf courses in 1909, adverse effects on the views would go to the heart of the integrity of the design of the designated landscape, even though the turbines are not in the designated area.

“It is clear to me that the wind farm would be conspicuous in views from the designated area and would draw the eye as a major new and distracting focal point and feature on the skyline.

“This effect will recur in many views in the designated area, especially from the King’s Course, an original and integral part of the Gleneagles design, and significantly change the experience of being in the designed landscape, whether participating in golf or not.”

Mr Tyldesley concluded that the planned wind farm wasn’t “well located” in the Ochil Hills from a landscape and visual point of view.

Dec 5 2006


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