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Al Fayad land turbines firm fights refusal  

The developer behind plans for a controversial 23-turbine windfarm on Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed’s land in central Sutherland yesterday appealed against refusal of planning permission for the development.

Airtricity – one of Europe’s leading fully integrated renewable energy companies – also criticised Highland Council for basing its decision on the proposed windfarm at Beinn Rosail, Strath Oykel, near Invercassley, on its new Highland Renewable Energy Strategy.

The company is in the unusual situation of asking Scottish Ministers to reverse a council decision, which has already been overturned by its own members.

The planning application was approved by the council’s planning, development, Europe and tourism committee in September of last year, against the recommendation of its officers.

However, the decision was challenged by eight councillors who submitted a notice of amendment calling for it to be overturned.

And the application was then refused by a majority of 19 votes to 11 at a special meeting of the full council held in Lairg in December.

Airtricity’s grounds for appeal are that the development is in accordance with the council’s overall development plan; is supported by national government policy, and that there are no material planning considerations which would justify refusal.

Airtricity Scotland’s chief executive, Alan Baker, said: “We believe we have a strong case for appeal to the Scottish Executive. We have fully considered the reasons given by the council for the decision in respect of Invercassley and we believe the council has wrongly refused our application on the basis of its 2001 structure plan and the new Highland Renewable Energy Strategy.”

He added that the strategy was adopted by the council as non-statutory planning guidance in May 2006, which was around six months after Airtricity lodged its Invercassley application.

“We remain committed to the view that the windfarm at Invercassley would contribute to the government’s green energy targets and bring significant economic and employment benefits to the area’s communities, which the council and community councils say are economically fragile,” said Mr Baker.

By Sue Restan

thisisnorthscotland.co.uk

28 February 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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