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Aberfeldy windfarm looks set for new inquiry

Perth-based I&H Brown have appealed to the Scottish Executive following the rejection of controversial but scaled-down plans for a windfarm in Highland Perthshire, it emerged yesterday.

And MSP Murdo Fraser believes that only a full public inquiry is appropriate to decide the fate of the project, planned for Calliacher, four miles south of Aberfeldy.

The company wanted the go-ahead for the 14-turbine development on 221 hectares of moorland.

But members of the council’s development control committee voted 9-3 – against the advice of their planning chief – to throw out the application.

An earlier proposal for 27 turbines was refused by Scottish Ministers after a public inquiry.

But the inquiry Reporter indicated that the scheme would be acceptable if reduced below 50MW.

Nick Brian, the council’s development quality manager, had recommended approval, pointing out that the omission of 13 turbines had resulted in a proposal which was “acceptable in both landscape and visual terms.”

And he warned that any decision, other than conditional approval, could result in a public inquiry which the council was “unlikely” to win.

But the development control committee threw out the modified planning bid, citing concerns over the potential damage to Perthshire’s landscape and tourist industry.

Murdo, who spoke against the original windfarm proposal during the public inquiry in September, 2006, believes that a windfarm at the site should now be ruled out altogether.

He said then that the windfarm had to be rejected because it would have a negative impact on the local tourism economy due to the damage it would cause to the scenery of the area.

Murdo said yesterday:“This latest bid to have a windfarm built at Calliacher is a new application and therefore should be treated as such, with a new and full public inquiry.

“I believe that a full public inquiry will let all views be aired and allow for a full examination of the application.

“Perth and Kinross Council has already made it abundantly clear that they do not want this windfarm. The last thing that people in Highland Perthshire wanted is a fresh appeal and this saga continuing for another year or two.

“I want to see Scotland lead the way in renewable technology but better guidelines are needed so that submitted windfarm applications are sited appropriately.

“It is clear that current Scottish Government policy in this area is inadequate if revised windfarm applications that have already been rejected are again being appealed by developers.”

By Les Stewart

Perthshire Advertiser

8 July 2008