Windfarm objectors yesterday told a planning inquiry into two proposed developments in a picturesque area of central Sutherland that the schemes would have a severe adverse impact on tourism.
They claim the 46 turbines would destroy the unspoilt landscape, which they claim is the main tourist attraction in the economically fragile area.
Scottish Executive inquiry reporter Janet McNair is conducting a joint inquiry into appeals by Airtricity and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) against Highland Council’s refusal of planning permission for proposed windfarms near Lairg.
Airtricity wants to erect a 23-turbine development on Mohamed Al Fayed’s Invercassley Estate at Beinn Rosail, Strath Oykel, near Rosehall, and SSE hopes to create a 23-turbine windfarm at Achany.
Russell Smith, representing Creich and Ardgay and District Community Councils, yesterday told Ms McNair that the majority of local people were opposed to the proposals.
They were concerned about the impact of the proposed developments on the economy, the road network and the environment and their cumulative impact with a 19-turbine windfarm at nearby Rosehall Hill Forest, which has been granted planning permission.
“If these proposals are approved then developers, landowners and the Scottish Executive get what they want. Scottish Natural Heritage and the Highland Council can walk away. Only the local people lose out,” said Mr Smith.
Colonel Colin Gilmour, of Rosehall Windfarm Group, told the inquiry a recent poll showed that 70% of residents in Rosehall and Doune, which includes Strathkyle, were concerned over the number of windfarms proposed, 69% were concerned about the environmental effects, and 77% were concerned about their effect on the roads system.
He said they were also concerned that the construction of the Invercassley windfarm could result in sediment findings its way into the Rivers Oykel and Cassley, which are both important fishing rivers, and from the Achany development into the Grudie Burn.
He criticised SSE for allegedly not carrying out more thorough public consultation.
Michael Keates, of Rosehall Windfarm Group, said that across the Kyle of Sutherland from the two proposed windfarms and from Rosehall Hill windfarm, over 60 turbines would be visible within a five-mile radius.
He said: “This will turn what was a rural area into an industrial site.
“If these developments get the go-ahead, the natural beauty that we treasure will be destroyed.”
Mr Keates added that they would also be seen from the so-called “million-dollar view” on the Struie looking across the Kyle of Sutherland, and from Ben More Assynt and Ben Klibreck.
The inquiry at Lairg Community Centre is due to conclude next week.
11 August 2007
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