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News and Views from the Highlands  

Common sense and democracy in the Highlands of Scotland finally died on the 17 April 2007 with the injustice carried out by the Highland Council Planning committee.

For almost two years the community of Garve and Achnasheen have been faced with the possibility of a major wind-farm development at Lochluichart that will extend over more than 24 miles of Scotland’s most scenic country and reaching a height of over 400 feet making it visible from two major holiday routes, and a number of Munros and Corbits both in Wester Ross and Easter Ross.

The community Council held public meetings, ballots were arranged and on all occasions the people voiced their opinion to reject the development; on the last such ballot out of 291 eligible voters only 70 voted for the project 7 less than the previous postal ballot.

At the public planning committee hearing for the now redesigned 22 turbine wind-farm the Planning Department produced an agenda that was full of contradictions; the developer was allowed to introduce a letter written without prejudice from the Planning Department stating their willingness to support a reduction of five turbines to 17 even through this was not being discussed and is contra to E2 of the Highland Councils own structure plan and contravenes G2 on energy development and E7 of the Highland Council renewable energy strategy.

The committee then went on to ignore the voice of the community, failed to consider schedule 9(3) (2), the Electricity Act of 1989 to preserve the natural beauty of an area, paid no heed to the designation of the EC on EPS or SPA’s for wild life and when safety issues on low flying military aircraft, risk to private light aircraft in this area and the accident black spots the road system presents, felt these did not merit much discussion.

Let us not forget that four of the committee voted against the development, but let us also not forget that the evidence points towards the cash vote. Lochluichart estate will reap millions from the development via company connections, the developer will gain vast sums of money and yes the community will receive cash benefits though these have yet to be confirmed by the developer; but who will be the losers, tourism, yes, local business, possibly; no it will be the every day person who voted against the project, and lives, works and uses the area and whose quality of life will be reduced with the construction of a massive industrial complex on their door step.


1 May 2007

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