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Ministers give nod to new windfarm

Stirling’s latest windfarm looks set to go ahead near Carron Valley after Scottish Ministers confirmed they didn’t feel the need to intervene.

The Ministers said they would neither restrict the granting of planning permission or call in the Scotia Wind application for their own determination, and have put it back in Stirling Council’s hands.

The council’s planning panel had voted by a majority in December to approve the Scotia Wind Ltd application for eight turbines at the site in Carron Valley, contrary to their planning officials’ recommendation.

The panel had said it met a national need for renewable energy from wind, they had considered the site to have a limited visual and environmental impact, that it would be linked with underground cables not overhead pylons, and that the route used during construction had been given careful consideration.

Intervene

While the Ministers have now confirmed they don’t want to intervene, they have left it open to the council to reconsider the application – this time taking into account a recently published landscape survey.

The survey, commissioned by Stirling Council, the national park authority and Scottish Natural Heritage, was carried out to look at the impact of current and proposed windfarms – and found that Craigengelt along with other proposed windfarms at Ballindalloch Muir, Muirpark, Kingsburn and the Earlsburn extension were individually “likely to exceed identified landscape capacity”.

Council planners are now advising that as councillors knew the survey was imminent when they originally considered the application and chose not to wait for it to be available, there is no need for further debate.

If the advice is accepted by councillors, all that remains is for a legal agreement to be finalised between the council and Scotia Wind to put in place a habitat management plan.

The Ministers told the council this week: “In February the council advised that the application had been ‘determined’ at a time when the landscape study had only recently been received, and that therefore it did not inform the decision-making process.

“However, it remains at this time a live planning application. It had been subject to a direction restricting the grant of planning permission by the council, pending the requirement to notify Scottish Ministers.

“On that basis you may wish to consider, as decision-maker, the status of the landscape survey and to what extent, if any, it is material before this council makes a final decision on the application.”

However, Stirling Council planners said: “In relation to this, the landscape study was referred to in the planning panel report for this application and therefore should not be taken into account as it was not available to the applicant before they made the proposal.

“It is therefore proposed that the planning consent be issued upon conclusion of the Section 75 legal agreement.”

Operations Director Dominic Farrugia commented:

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government have supported the decision taken by Stirling Council to grant consent for the Craigengelt Wind Farm.

“In doing so, they have recognised the contribution wind energy can make to combating climate change and assisted Stirling achieve its carbon neutral ambitions. We believe Craigengelt is a high quality windfarm that has been well designed and is appropriately sited.

“The company has heavily engaged in consultation and will continue to do so as the project moves into construction.

“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.”

by Kaiya Marjoribanks

Stirling Observer

6 June 2008