A threat to an endangered species of goose brought a windfarm plan crashing to the ground yesterday.
The development in Argyll yesterday became one of the first in Britain to be turned down solely because it was claimed it would break European wildlife protection laws. More than 600 letters of objection from all over the world were lodged against Eurus Energy UK’s proposal to erect a seven-turbine windfarm at Largie, near Tayinloan, in Kintyre, amid fears that it would pose a threat to protected Greenland white-fronted geese who migrate to the area in winter.
The application was turned down by councillors after they received legal advice that to pass it would be contravening a European Court ruling.
Members of Argyll and Bute Council’s Mid Argyll, Kintyre and Islay Area Committee made it clear that they wanted to approve the windfarm.
But planning officials recommended refusal on two grounds, one being the perceived landscape impact of the turbines and the other being the need to adhere to European laws to safeguard the geese.
The committee rejected landscape impact as a valid reason for refusal and did not believe the windfarm would have had a significant impact on the geese.
However, the council’s legal team advised councillors that they must refuse the plan and quoted a European Court of Justice ruling concerning a windfarm site in Holland (EC v Government of the Netherlands – the Waddenzee case).
The court judgment stated that if there is “reasonable scientific doubt” that a designated European specially protected area may be adversely affected by a windfarm it would be illegal to approve it.
Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB, in objections to the plan, claimed the turbines could kill up to 100 geese a year, which the council’s legal team said equated to reasonable scientific doubt.
Angus Gilmour, who is head of planning at Argyll and Bute Council, told councillors: “To be able to support the development the council would have to satisfy itself that the development would not give rise to adverse effect upon the integrity of the Kintyre Goose Roosts special protection area.
By Moira Kerr
8 March 2007
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