The Mellock Hill wind farm, near Crook of Devon, is the “best site” in the Ochil Hills for such a development, a landscape architect has told a public inquiry.
Not only is its design acceptable, but it would also provide some landscape benefit to the area, according to Rebecca Rylott, an associate director of Glasgow-based Entec UK Ltd.
She was giving evidence on behalf of RDC Scotland Ltd. who want to erect 14 turbines, along with associated infrastructure, near the Kinross-shire village.
The company have offered to cut the number of turbines to nine to meet visual concerns expressed by the council and Scottish Natural Heritage.
Their planning bid was rejected by the council, along with proposals for three other wind farms in the Ochils, triggering a series of long-running public inquiries.
The other proposals are at Snowgoat Glen, near Dunning (NPower Renewables Ltd., 10 turbines), Lochelbank, near Glenfarg (12 turbines), and Little Law, near Auchterarder (GreenPower International Ltd., 14 turbines).
“Site specific” public inquiries have already been held for each of the four developments. Now a “conjoined” inquiry is taking place in Perth’s Salutation Hotel, examining the potential cumulative visual and landscape impacts of the schemes.
Ms Rylott told Scottish Executive Reporter Karen Haywood that the submitted scheme represented a “refinement” of the previous wind farm proposal by reducing and relocating the turbines, and the level of design quality had, in her opinion, passed the “threshold of acceptability.”
Mellock Hill had “obvious advantages” over other locations including:
All of the turbines are located within the council’s “˜Broad Area of Search’
for wind farm development.
This is a forested site which is routinely subject to high levels of change.
The existing forestry tracks will be reused to access the wind farm.
The site area does not have a distinctive or prominent skyline.
5 The lay-out composition is good and “˜best’ from the close range views, so significant effects have some mitigation.
6 The site has greatest potential for enhancement of the Ochils Area of Great Landscape Value.
The site area has no “˜wild’ characteristics and is essentially man-modified.
8) It also has lower landscape sensitivity and higher landscape capacity.
The area is less walked and less well connected to the wider footpath network as a result of the forestry.
10 The forest creates a “˜closed’ visual experience, and will screen close-range views and ground-based construction within areas where the forestry is to remain.
Because the site is forested, the effects on walkers, residents and cultural heritage are all reduced.
Ms Rylott said that her cumulative assessment had taken into account the existing wind farm at Braes of Doune, the already-approved development at Green Knowes, near Auchterarder, as well as the other four projects.
She added: “Considering all of the assessment information, the optimum threshold, or landscape capacity for acceptable development (in landscape terms), would be achieved by the consent of Mellock Hill (14 or nine turbine lay-out) and possibly Lochelbank, in addition to Green Knowes and Braes of Doune.
“This scenario would lead to the visibility of up to two to three wind farms, set comfortably within the landscape, such that they would be co-existent and compatible elements of the rural landscape scenery.
“In my opinion, the Mellock Hill Wind Farm is the best site in the Ochils.
and whether viewed cumulatively or individually, the choice of turbine lay-out is correct as an irregular cluster or group of turbines around a hill summit appearing as a consistent and compatible image with other wind farm development.
“The composition of the wind farm design is acceptable, and is not dissimilar to other successful, existing wind farm developments.
“The appellant has offered a reduced scheme of nine turbines, which would also be acceptable.”
9 March 2007
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