A community leader has slammed as “extremely dubious” photomontages produced in support of a controversial £10 million wind farm scheme at Nigg.
Local community council chairman Richard Cross made his remarks after developers behind the five-turbine Nigg hill proposal set out their stall at two exhibitions in Balintore and Nigg last week.
Project manager Alasdair MacPherson said public responses ranged from “general support to strong hostility” and accepted demands for more views of how turbines of up to 125 metres in height would appear to anxious householders.
Independent specialists West Coast Energy are probing the suitability of the project, examining potential noise, nature conservation, archaeological, landscape and visual impacts.
The developer said around 115 people turned up to see the exhibitions, which included photomontages illustrating the predicted visual impact. It has promised to produce more views.
The company assured locals that there are no plans to extend the proposed wind farm in the future, a question raised by many.
It says the wind farm would generate enough clean, green electricity to supply around 6,000 homes.
A website has been set up with an interactive map. Comments can also be posted through the site which can be found at www.niggwindenergy.co.uk.
Nigg and Shandwick Community Council chairman Richard Cross described the photomontages as “extremely dubious” and queried why a request for copies was refused. He said, “Why? Could it be that the images do not stand scrutiny?
“They insist on referring to this development as ‘small scale’ but capable of supplying 6,000 houses. The Nigg and Shandwick Community Council area contains approximately 175 houses, 30 of which will be within one mile of the wind turbines.
“One of the displays insisted that it is important to involve the community at all stages. Why then did bird surveys start in secret several months before this became public, and at the time of this first direct community involvement we are told the planning application is almost complete?”
He predicted the environmental impact assessment would be “fundamentally flawed” because of a lack of independent input into its production. Mr Cross takes issue with the proposed community fund which he predicts will offer a maximum payout of £20,000 per year and would prove “hugely divisive”.
He went on, “The developers were told at the outset that this proposal is a non-starter. The planners know that, the planning committee members know that, the local community knows it too. So why do they persist? Is it because money comes before the environment? The cars they drove to the exhibitions would certainly suggest that. Or are we in the process of being sold down the river by our politicians? You could not find a more prominent site, visible from all around the Moray Firth, surrounded by environmentally sensitive areas on all sides, and closer to houses than guidelines permit.
“When I first heard this compared to the Highland Clearances, I laughed, but now I think the comparison is valid. If this proposal goes ahead, many people will lose through damage to their businesses, their property values or their living environment, all for the profit of the few.”
14 September 2007