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Conservation groups' fury as Perthshire wind farm gets go-ahead  

Ministers granted consent yesterday for the third-largest wind farm in Scotland – and the fourth-largest in Europe – to be built in rural Perthshire.

The 68 turbine Griffin wind farm near Aberfeldy will be capable of meeting electricity demand for more than 100,000 homes.

An application for the wind farm was previously rejected by Perth and Kinross Council following public opposition.

A public inquiry was then held and the final decision, on whether to allow the facility lay with ministers.

Describing the decision taken as an “important milestone in the government’s energy strategy for Scotland” Jim Mather, energy minister, said: “Renewables capacity is already greater than the installed capacity of nuclear in Scotland. This wind farm will have the capacity to meet electricity demand for more than 100,000 homes, a further demonstration of Scotland’s renewable energy potential.

“There is no doubt that this country can become the green energy capital of Europe.

“In doing so, we will help tackle climate change, without adding to the burden of toxic radioactive waste that new nuclear power would bring.”

But the John Muir Trust, a land conservation body, said it was “a very sad day for Highland Perthshire”.

Nigel Hawkins, chief executive of the Trust, said: “These 68 turbines, each 124 metres high, will dwarf the forestry and surrounding landscape, and change the rural aspect to an industrial one. The scale of this is totally inappropriate for such an area and, sadly, is likely to damage the tourism industry.”

Although the official announcement about the Aberfeldy project was made yesterday, the Scottish Government caused anger last week when it issued a press release stating the wind farm had been given the go-ahead – only to withdraw it soon after.

The release should have been solely about a project in Aberdeenshire. The confusion was blamed on an administrative error.

Mid-Scotland and Fife Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The way that the SNP Government has gone about announcing the outcome of this wind farm application is shambolic.”

But while Mr Fraser called the go-ahead to the wind farm a “bad decision” and “devastating news”, RSPB Scotland applauded it.

Anne McCall, its head of planning, said: “This is really good news and should be recognised as a great example of a large wind farm, sensibly located away from designated sites.”

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Council said: “We are studying the details of the decision and will provide a report to the relevant Committee in due course.”

By Alison Chiesa

The Herald

1 February 2008

———

John Muir Trust: jmt.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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