A Community has voted by a majority of almost 60% to reject proposals for a windfarm near a major route through the Highlands.
It is the second time Garve and Achanasheen Community Council has spurned plans for a development on the Lochluichart Estate near Garve, Ross-shire.
Objectors are now urging the Anglo-Dutch consortium behind the plan to withdraw its application for 22 turbines.
In a community ballot of around 300 residents and property owners, 106 people voted against the scheme and 70 in favour from a turnout of more than 60%.
The Stop Lochluichart Windfarm campaign called on Infinergy Ltd and Lochluichart Estate to formally withdraw its application for the turbines between the A832 to Skye and A835 to Ullapool.
In a statement, it said: “The community has now been balloted twice – on each occasion it has said no. We therefore call on the developer to tell Highland Council it is formally withdrawing the application.
“Failure to withdraw will clearly demonstrate that what the developer really cares about is not the planet or local opinion but £7million a year in renewable subsidy payments courtesy of the taxpayer.”
It continued: “Documents released by Scottish Natural Heritage show the developer is fully aware this scheme is hardly viable anyway. It just wants the money in spite of knowing that Highland Council has a policy against windfarm development in this area.”
Highland councillors are expected to discuss the application in May. Scottish ministers will take the final decision.
Local postmaster Harry Goudie, who has fought against the project, hailed the latest vote as a victory, but added: “I am relieved the ballot is over.
“It has all been terribly damaging and divisive in a small community where people need to get on.”
Independent experts commissioned by the objectors claim the developer, Infinergy, has exaggerated the windfarm’s potential green house gas savings by as much as 150% and has failed to produce detailed wind-speed data.
Infinergy comprises property firm Savills and Koop Duurzame Energie, part of the Dutch Koop engineering group in partnership with the Lochluichart Estate home of city banker Hamish Leslie-Melville.
A spokeswoman for the developers said: “The ballot result is very interesting. It seems to us that the inclusion of holiday home owners has clearly had an effect on the result.
“Infinergy has always been keen to understand how the true local residents feel and we believe that it’s a shame that the ballot result has been distorted by the inclusion of occasional visitors.”
He said he believed that judging by questionnaires completed by visitors to its exhibitions, 66% of “permanent local residents” supported the proposals.
He added: “Nearly 5,000 people have written Lochluichart support letters to the executive compared to just over 1,000 letters from opponents.”
By Iain Ramage
13 March 2007
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