People living close to the site of a proposed major wind farm in North Sutherland have voted to oppose the development.
Two-thirds of those who responded in a local ballot were against Scottish and Southern Energy’s 35-turbine venture on the north side of Strathy Forest. The poll was undertaken by Strathy and Armadale Community Council, which will now be lodging a formal objection.
Officials from the power company travelled north to spell out their plans at a public meeting in the village hall last month. Several local people then claimed the turbines ““ which would stand 110 metres to the tip of their blades ““ would desecrate the area.
The ballot revealed 68 per cent against the £90 million development and 32 per cent in favour. A total of 103 households were surveyed, with just over 60 per cent responding. Thirty-five people voted for and 78 against.
Community council chairman Janette Mackay said the outcome was expected, though she was surprised the majority against had not been bigger. She said feedback at the meeting and other soundings she has taken identified the extent of the development as the main concern.
“I think most of the opposition relates to the sheer size of it,” said Mrs Mackay, of Honeysuckle Cottage, Strathy West. “One or two folk who are against say they would have been happy if it had been a smaller development. It’s the scale of it that is the frightening thing.”
Mrs Mackay said the community council has pledged to reflect local views and would therefore be objecting to SSE’s planning application to the Scottish Executive. She added: “We, of course, don’t know if our stance will make any difference to what is eventually decided.”
At last month’s meeting, SSE’s Strathy project manager Simon Heyes revealed that the company is close to submitting follow-up plans to build a further 77 turbines on the south side of the forest.
The first phase is designed to produce 82 megawatts of electricity which SSE says could service the needs of 39,500 households. SSE are seeking separate consent to lay a 12 kilometre underground cable from the site to connect with the national grid at the foot of the single-track Strathhalladale road.
23 March 2007
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