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Planners warned of windfarm dangers

Highland planners were warned yesterday that they risked flooding communities and landing taxpayers with huge fines if they approved a raft of windfarm applications in a wildlife haven on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park.

Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson told local objectors to five schemes planned for the pristine Dava Moor near Grantown that he had submitted their complaints to EC Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

He hoped the commissioner’s legal officers would visit to verify that, cumulatively, the projects would breach bird, peat bog and habitat legislation.

The proposed developments – at Berryburn, Cairn Duhie, Dunearn, Tom nan Clach and Glenkirk – would comprise 130 turbines, averaging 425ft in height in an area popular with walkers and other tourists.

The central point of Lochindorb, between the Spey and Findhorn rivers, is famed for endangered species including golden eagles, capercaillies and larks.

Mr Stevenson told an audience of 60 people at a Grantown hotel: “Each turbine would have 1,000 tonnes of concrete at its foundation and 30 miles of roadway linking them all for servicing purposes. It would industrialise a whole virgin landscape which is unique in Scotland.

“No one knows the consequences of excavating a four-metre-deep (13ft) blanket peat bog which has taken thousands of years to form.

“The fragile hydrology of the whole Dava basin is going to be disturbed. You could have flooding in the whole community.”

He urged the council to “put on hold” further consideration of the schemes until the commission decided if there was a case to answer.

Ray Hunter, of Renewable Energy Systems, one of the five firms hoping to establish a local scheme, said: “The likelihood is that only those windfarms that meet very exact planning criteria will go ahead and I’m sure the developers, collectively, would be very surprised themselves were there to be five consents.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We will always take into account all comments in assessing any application.”

The Press and Journal

24 August 2007