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Planning boss backs wind farm despite 450 objections  

The views of almost 450 objectors to another massive windfarm could be ignored by Highland councillors next week at a special hearing into Scottish and Southern Energy’s proposals for a scheme near Brora in Sutherland.

The power firm wants to build 35 turbines, each 350ft high – more than twice the height of Nelson’s Column – on leased land within the Gordonbush Estate, northwest of the coastal town.

It is barely a mile from a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and a Ramsar (UN protected wetlands) site.

Planning director John Rennilson has recommended approval of the project although the size of it – a claimed 87.5MW output – means Scottish ministers will have the final word.

It will nevertheless be considered by the newly-formed Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross planning committee at a hearing at Brora’s Royal Marine Hotel on Tuesday after a 10am site visit.

In addition to visual impact, objectors are gravely concerned about the implications of turbines on protected eagles and golden plover known to nest within the nearby Coir’ an Eoin protected area. Scottish Natural Heritage previously objected to a windpark on the estate, citing the effect on the area’s bird life. It has since recently withdrawn its concerns about golden plover on the basis of “new internal guidelines on the interpretation of impacts of windfarms on birds outwith SPAs.”

Objectors fears spelt out in the council papers point to areas within the development site posing a “moderate risk” of peat slide and “a risk to the perception of the area for tourists and to our tourist industry which is founded upon its environment, landscape, wildness, peace and quiet.”

They also believe such a development would breach the council’s structure plan.

SSE claims the scheme would create 80 jobs during a 10-month construction phase.

Among conditions the council would impose on the developer is that of a guaranteed “community benefit package”.

The Press and Journal

21 June 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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