Opponents of the proposed Spittal Hill wind farm have warmly welcomed the thumbs-down given to the controversial scheme by people living in and around Watten.
In a ballot carried out for the local community council, just over three in five votes were cast against the 30-turbine development.
The exercise was carried out following an acrimonious meeting of the community council last month.
It represents a setback for community council chairman Jim MacDonald, who has promoted the financial spin-offs the wind farm could bring for the community.
Of the 474 ballot papers sent out, 137 returns came back against the development and 78 in favour of it. With a handful of spoiled papers, that gave a response rate of 46.4 per cent.
The result was declared at the community council’s meeting on Monday evening by David Sutherland, the Highland Council’s ward manager.
Community council secretary Anne Alexander said afterwards: “We now know the feelings of local people. They do not want the wind farm, and we will reflect that view in our response to the Highland Council’s planning department.”
The outcome of the vote has been welcomed by Spittal Wind Opposition Group. Its chairman, John Brown, said last night: “We’re absolutely delighted with the result.
“All we ever wanted was for Watten people to have the opportunity to make their views known, as we felt they had been denied this.
“The community council finally came round to our way of thinking and of course we’re very pleased that it went our way.”
Mr Brown added: “I can now consider myself as part of the majority and not part of the minority, as some people would have you suggest.”
He said SWOG will continue its campaign against the £83 million wind farm which it believes would blight the area.
“We will not be stopping just because there’s been a measure of success within the Watten community – it’s just one more step along the way,” Mr Brown added.
The Highland Council is currently consulting on the planning application but the final decision will be taken by Scottish ministers.
11 July 2007
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