I note from your article “Wind farm trust fund offer ridiculous” in last week’s Journal that you were kind enough to quote me on the issue of wind turbines proposed for the Hill of Nigg.
However, I feel that the article requires some further explanation.
The Nigg and Shandwick Community Council are faced with a huge issue. We have tried to discuss the proposals with our local Highland Councillors, but have been met with a stone wall. The councillors, it seems, are bound by a code of practice which prevents them from discussing a planning proposal before a hearing.
They have to be seen to be impartial, or be excluded from the voting process in the planning committee. So, as a community council trying to represent the feelings of our local residents, we are prevented from knowing how our representatives will vote on the issue.
I have tried on several occasions to provoke debate, but have been prevented. For this reason, I want to appeal to all concerned residents of Easter Ross, to let their feelings be known to their representatives.
Another concern is the process used to produce the Environmental Impact Assessment, which leads to the Environmental Statement, which will be lodged with the planning application, expected in December.
This is a statement which is prepared by or on behalf of the developer. It can be hugely complex, will take many months, if not years, to produce, and will form the backbone of the planning application.
Given that it is produced by the developer, it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be entirely impartial.
I can guarantee that language will be carefully chosen to minimise the written impact of negatives, and maximise the impact of “mitigating measures”.
Once this document becomes public with the planning application, there is a statutory 28 days in which to lodge objections.
This may be extended by request, but for how long? For a community council, consisting of a few ordinary elected or co-opted members of the public to produce a viable analysis of this complex document within permitted timescales, and virtually no money, is clearly impossible. The odds are stacked heavily against us.
In the meantime, while we wait impotently for the planning application to be lodged, we are trying to get a scale model of the proposals made, to illustrate beyond dispute, how utterly out of scale the proposal is within the landscape of the Hill of Nigg.
To propose to erect 410 feet high structures on the skyline of a 600 feet high hill, which rises from flat land between the Dornoch Firth and Cromarty Firth, is surely madness beyond belief.
It defies logic to understand why the issue has been pursued at all, as it would be hard to imagine a more inappropriate location.
One can only assume that the developers are prepared to invest large amounts of money in the expectation that the planning committee will be taken in by their “spin”.
We can only invest our trust in the members of the planning committee, that they will have the courage and common sense to stand up to this proposal and reject it for the farce it is.
We have approached the developers to seek financial support to conduct an independent review of the likely effects on house prices in the area, and also to support the construction of a scale model. Two weeks have passed with no decision from them.
I wonder how that compares with the four weeks we will have in which to comment in detail on the planning application, in the run up to Christmas.
Any assistance from your readers would be very welcome indeed.
Richard Cross, Chairman, Nigg and Shandwick Community Council.
2 November 2007
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