Suspicions that an £8million five-turbine wind farm on Nigg Hill could be the precursor to a much larger development are misplaced, it was claimed yesterday.
West Coast Energy project manager Fraser McKenzie, acting on behalf of renewables specialist Faulk Energy, which is behind the latest Nigg scheme, was responding to concerns locally that it is merely a forerunner of larger applications that would follow approval.
One nearby resident, Peter Grant, says he has been told by a member of Highland Council’s planning department that his belief Faulk’s scheme “will be followed by a phase 2 at minimum” may well be correct.
He asks why the company has applied to connect to the 33KV grid which is considerably further away than a possible 11KV connection would be.
In addition to the greater cost that would incur, he says, it would involve establishing a connection through sensitive areas, including Nigg Bay, a National Nature Reserve.
He said, “The only rational conclusion one can draw is that they seek approval of this site with the full intention of having 33KV line connections in place for later extensions.”
Responding to the claims, West Coast Energy’s Fraser McKenzie said, “We are only at the stage of gathering information for the environmental impact assessment so we cannot be absolutely certain about the number of turbines until this has been completed.
“We can, however, reassure people that our plans are for a small scale wind farm, of around five turbines, at this location and that this proposal is not a precursor for any major development.”
A spokeswoman later added that the uncertainty expressed about the number of turbines could also mean fewer than five.
A Ross-shire Journal online poll on the Nigg Hill issue shows the community split over the proposals, which have not yet reached the planning stage.
As we went to press yesterday, 181 respondents declared Nigg Hill a suitable site for a wind farm with 165 opposed.
Six said ‘maybe.
by Hector Mackenzie
15 June 2007
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