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Wind farm bid still leaves locals reeling

The Northumberland-based company behind scaled-down plans for another controversial wind farm development in a scenic area of Highland Perthshire is to hold two further public exhibitions.

Energy giant AMEC are expected to lodge proposals this summer to erect 14, 107-metre high turbines on Findowie Hill, between Dunkeld and Amulree. The land forms part of Mansfield Estates and the original idea was to construct 40 of the giant turbines.

But with Scottish Ministers still to decide whether two other giant wind farm schemes in approximately the same area will get the green light, locals fear there is a “conspiracy” to surround them with turbines.

The 14 turbines could produce up to 28 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet the domestic requirements of over 15,600 households.

If displacing a coal-fired power plant, the project would save over 63,000 tonnes of CO² a year.

A start date for the construction, which could take up to two years, would depend on the length – and outcome – of the planning process.

The wind farm would be accompanied by a community fund, which could contribute approximately £40,000 a year to the local economy – and there is also the possibility of locals taking a financial stake in the project.

John Price, Logiealmond wind farm development director, said yesterday: “When, in 2004, we first went public with our plans to develop a large wind farm of approximately 40 turbines in Logiealmond, on the Mansfield Estate, we received some valuable feedback from the community and other consultees.

“We have taken three years to review, revise and improve the proposal using the information gained during the consultations and using the results of environmental work.

“As a result, we have reduced the scale of our plans and are now proposing 14 turbines. We believe that the new lay-out has been designed sympathetically to the local environment yet remains of a scale that could generate substantial benefits for the local community.

“Since our consultations in 2004 we have worked hard on all our sites to look at the best way for wind farms to offer benefits to the local community and we hope to discuss the various options in the near future, including the possibility of the community taking a financial stake in the project.

“The main considerations for the development so far have been landscape and visual assessment and minimising effects on birds of prey.”

Two public meetings have already been held in the Bankfoot Playgroup Hall last month and consultations have taken place with both Methven and Dunkeld and Birnam Community Councils.

Now they have agreed to hold two additional exhibitions next week.

The first is in Chapelhill Community Hall, from 4pm-8pm on July 25 and the second is in the BASC Hall, Trochry, on July 26, at the same times.

Mr Price added: “These events will provide the community with a further chance to view our plans which, as a result of previous consultation, have been reduced in size from the initial lay-outs of around 40 turbines to the current proposal for 14.

“Once we submit our planning application we will be looking to start a detailed consultation on community benefit, including the possibility for the community to take an investment stake in the proposal.

But local Councillor Barbara Vaughan has already claimed the development would “blight” that part of Highland Perthshire.

“People living in Strathbraan must think there is a conspiracy to surround them with wind turbines,” she said.

“I attended the sessions of the public inquiry into the Griffin and Calliacher proposals where local residents were voicing their opposition. I was impressed with the arguments they made, not just on the impact on the local community, but also more widely on tourism in the area.”

“None of the roads around the proposed windfarm is in any way suitable for the heavy traffic that will be needed during its construction. Any proposals to deal with this will spoil the scenic tourist routes that visitors to Perthshire value so much on their visits.

“Everyone is very aware of the need to generate power from renewable resources. I would like to see a greater emphasis on exploring other renewable forms such as off-shore windfarms and wave power before we blight the wonderful scenery of Perthshire.”

l A 68-turbine plan by GreenPower at Griffin Forest, near Dunkeld, and proposals for 27 turbines at Calliacher, south of Aberfeldy, by I&H Brown, went to public inquiry and a decision by is still awaited.

By Les Stewart


20 July 2007