Scottish ministers have asked Stirling councillors to explain themselves after going against their officials’ advice and backing a new windfarm.
The council’s planning panel voted by a majority in December to approve an application by Scotia Wind Ltd for eight turbines at Craigengelt in Carron Valley.
But now ministers have come back and asked the council to detail why the application was approved, particularly when its planners had recommended refusal.
The panel is expected to discuss the situation at a meeting on Tuesday.
Craigengelt would be Stirling’s third windfarm. As well as the 125m turbines, there would be a new access road, bridge, electricity sub-station and weather mast.
The main objector was Scottish Natural Heritage, which was concerned about views from Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. As well as the cumulative impact with the Earlsburn windfarm, it complained that the turbines would appear twice as tall as those on the controversial Braes of Doune site.
Council planners had recommended refusal on similar grounds.
But some councillors disagreed, with David Goss, Andrew Simpson, Graham Reid, Jim Thomson, Alasdair MacPherson and Scott Farmer voting to give the windfarm the go-ahead.
Provost Margaret Brisley and Councillor Tony Ffinch, voted against.
Provost Brisley said she would have preferred to consider the application once a landscape study was available but heard that the applicants had submitted the proposal before the study was commissioned.
After that meeting planning panel chair Councillor MacPherson said: “I realise our planning officers had recommended refusal of this application but we have to keep in mind both the UK and Scottish governments’ aspirations for renewable energy and that is why I think it is only right to approve this application with the necessary conditions to protect wildlife in the area.
“By approving the application the panel has shown it is serious about tackling climate change. This particular proposal will make a major contribution to Stirling becoming carbon neutral and I warmly welcome that.”
Seven letters of objection and 10 letters of support had been received for the plans.
After the December decision, Scotia Wind director Dominic Farrugia said: “We believe Craigengelt is a high quality windfarm that has been well designed and is appropriately sited.
“We also look forward to delivering on our promise of £1.75 million in community benefits and would like to thank the community in the Carron Valley.”
21 March 2008
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