Highland councillors are being urged by their planning officers to object to an Anglo-Dutch consortium’s proposals for building 22 winds turbines, up to 410ft high, in an especially sensitive wildlife haven.
Ross and Cromarty councillors will visit the site of the planned development, between Lochluichart and Loch Glascarnoch, next Tuesday before determining the application at a 2pm meeting in Garve Village Hall.
The 66-megawatt capacity of Infinergy’s proposal means the decision will ultimately be made by Scottish Executive ministers. The project, initially involving 43 turbines, is planned for the Lochluichart Estate near Garve owned by former National Trust for Scotland chairman Hamish Leslie Melville.
Two polls have suggested most local people object to the idea because of their concerns about the possible impact on wildlife, landscape and area’s tourism. The turbines would be visible from peaks including Ben Wyvis in Easter Ross and from An Teallach near Ullapool. The area boasts a wide range of species including endangered golden eagles and red-throated diver.
Planning director John Rennilson said the application contravenes the Highland Structure Plan and “could have a significantly detrimental impact upon visual amenity in areas of Great Landscape Value”. He said it would also breach the authority’s own planning guidelines falling within an area with a “presumption against development” and that the applicants failed to submit an assessment of the cumulative impact of the Lochluichart and 20-turbine Fairburn windfarm proposal near Dingwall.
He also believes it would breach the Electricity Act 1989 because it would “not preserve the natural beauty of the area.”
A spokesman for the developer said: “Infinergy’s position is that they have got a very good windfarm project which they believe is not the answer to, but is certainly part of the fight that’s needed against climate change.
“The revised scheme has been accepted, or no objections raised, by all the statutory consultees including Scottish Natural Heritage. There would be a substantial community benefit and substantial opportunities for businesses in the Highland Council area.”
Harry Goudie of the Stop Lochluichart Wind Farm Campaign said: “It would be disappointing, to say the least, should councillors choose to go against local public opinion, their own policy and the recommendation of the director of planning.”
By Iain Ramage
13 April 2007
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