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Wind farm plan leads to windfall

Controversial plans to create an eight turbine wind farm in the Carron Valley in rural Stirling have been given the go-ahead by the council.

Developers Scotia Wind has said if the plans were approved they would pay out £1.75m to the 300-strong local community over the next 25 years.

Despite the promise of payment, the wind farm plan caused divisions among Carron Valley’s residents.

Planning officials had originally recommended the application be refused.

Scottish Natural Heritage also objected to the visual impact of the wind farm.

However, Scotia Wind said if the plans to construct eight turbines 125m in height, a new access road, bridge, electricity sub-station and meteorological monitoring mast went ahead, they would pay an index-linked cash windfall of £48,000 a year to the local community.

The money, administered by a development trust called Valley Renewables, could be used to fund community projects involving micro-renewables or a broadband facility for the area.

Divisions in support for the wind farm caused a breakdown in relation within the area’s community council last year.

Following the split, Carron Valley Community Council did not sit from February to August this year.

The project’s main objector, Scottish Natural Heritage said the cumulative visual impact of the wind farm, combined with another at Earlsburn in the Carron Valley, would be detrimental.

Quality wind farm

The panel’s chairman Alasdair MacPherson said that by approving the application, councillors had shown they were serious about combating climate change.

He added: “I realise our planning officers had recommended refusal of this application but we have to keep in mind both the UK and Scottish Government’s aspirations for renewable energy.”

The development is the third wind farm to be constructed in the Stirling Council area. There are already windfarms at Braes of Doune and Earlsburn in Carron Valley.

A spokesman for Scotia Wind welcomed Stirling Council’s decision.

“We believe Craigengelt is a high quality wind farm that has been well designed and is appropriately sited,” he said.

“We also look forward to delivering on our promise of £1.75m in community benefits and we would like to thank the community in the Carron Valley for their commitment and support.”

BBC News

20 December 2007