Wind farm approved for Perthshire
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Plans for a wind farm in the Ochil Hills have been approved following a public inquiry.
The 12-turbine development at Lochelbank near Glenfarg was originally rejected by Perth and Kinross Council.
The decision has been overturned on appeal, despite more than 1,000 objections to the proposals.
But the Scottish Executive has thrown out appeals for wind farms at Mellock Hill near Crook of Devon, Little Law at Auchterarder and nearby Snowgoat Glen.
There are already schemes for two wind farms in the Ochils, at Burnfoot and Greenknowes.
Scottish Executive reporter Karen Heyward ruled the cumulative effect of too many turbines would outweigh the possible benefits.
However, she approved plans for the npower renewables development at Lochelbank, which will be capable of generating 15MW of renewable energy.
Campaigners have been fighting the different proposals for four years.
The decision to allow only one new wind farm to be built has been welcomed by Alison Grave from the Windfarms Action Group (WAG).
She told the BBC Scotland news website: “We are very pleased the other three sites were not approved, otherwise the Ochils would have been turned into an industrial landscape.
“We’re disappointed Lochelbank was granted approval because we still have serious concerns about the neighbouring conservation area.”
The public inquiry heard the Lochelbank wind farm would be built next to Pitkeathly Mires, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
It is home to a number of protected species, including the rare slender feather green moss.
In granting permission for the turbines, Ms Heyward imposed a number of conditions to try and make sure the plants and their habitat were not destroyed.
However, she rejected “serious concerns” from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) about the location.
It claimed the turbines would pose a risk to species including whooper swan, osprey, peregrine falcon and large numbers of geese, which had been recorded using the site.
The RSPB’s conservation officer for Tayside, Suki Fleming, told the BBC Scotland news website: “We are disappointed Lochelbank has been selected to go ahead.
“This site had the greatest bird interest and was the most sensitive out of all the proposals.”
Npower renewables said the Lochelbank wind farm would make a valuable contribution towards both local and national renewable energy targets.
Regional development manager for Scotland, Frank Park, said: “This is great news and justifies our continued support of the scheme.
“The decision to refuse permission for Snowgoat Glen is disappointing but we accept the outcome of the public inquiry.”
Campaigners ruled out an appeal against the executive’s decision.
Ms Grave said: “It would cost more than £100,000 to appeal. The developers have big pockets and Joe Public doesn’t.
“The reporter feels the renewable gains outweigh the potential losses and we’ll just have to go with that.
“I just hope that the Ochils have reached their capacity. There are three wind farms now and this is the gateway to Perthshire.”
15 August 2007
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