Opposing a resubmitted application for a wind farm in Highland Perthshire will lead to inevitable defeat at a public inquiry, a council committee will be told this week.
I & H Brown have come back to the table with a modified bid to build turbines at Calliacher, south of Aberfeldy.
A previous application was refused following a public inquiry because 13 of the 27 giant turbines would have had an unacceptable visual impact from the road through Glen Quaich.
The firm’s latest scheme, which has been branded “utter madness” by objectors, sees those turbines removed, leaving the 14 which the inquiry reporter had deemed acceptable.
In a report to the development control committee which meets on Wednesday, planning chief, Nick Brian states, “I consider the omission of the 13 turbines has now resulted in a proposal which is acceptable in both landscape and visual terms and would previously have been approved by the public local inquiry reporter had he had powers to do so.
“I therefore consider any decision by the council other than a conditional approval would be unjustified and could potentially result in a PLI inquiry which the council is unlikely to satisfactorily defend on planning grounds.”
Wednesday’s debate will extend the period since Calliacher was first mooted to almost four and half years. Originally it was envisaged as a 46-turbine complex, modified to a more modest 27 before it was formally rejected.
This was greeted with jubilation by protesters who feel the project will destroy the views across Highland Perthshire and decimate the local environment.
There is also massive concern, shared by the council’s landscape consultants, about the cumulative effect of the nearby Griffin wind farm—granted permission earlier this year—and a section of the proposed Beauly to Denny overhead power line.
The I & H Brown proposal states it has addressed all objections and points out it will benefit the area through jobs and a substantial community fund.
The turbines would cover a 221 hectare area of moorland between Glen Cochill and Glen Quaich and would produce 32.2 megawatts of energy.
The turbines will be 59 metres tall with the blades stretching 11 metres.
Amulree and Strathbraan Wind Farm Action Group chairwoman, Jill Wilson said residents are “gutted” by the resubmission, adding, “I think to propose a wind farm in this part of beautiful Perthshire is utter madness.”
The latest development at Calliacher comes at a time of considerable uncertainty for wind farm projects in Highland Perthshire.
The Courier revealed reports last week that General Electric has dropped out of the Griffin wind farm—Perthshire’s largest—leaving a potential 100 million funding shortfall for remaining developers, Alloa-based GreenPower.
Despite repeated attempts to contact GreenPower officials, they have so far failed to respond to queries from The Courier about the future of the 68 turbine, 204MW project.
By Alan Richardson
5 May 2008
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