Plans for two windfarms on the landscape surrounding Dava Moor and Tomatin were rejected by Highland Council’s planning committee yesterday.
Renewables firm Infinergy and Cawdor Estates’ proposals for 17 turbines at Tom nan Clach, and Eurus Energy UK’s proposed development of 31 turbines as part of the Glenkirk windfarm on the hills overlooking Dava, both failed to get the support of councillors.
Fears were raised about their significant detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the ruined Lochindorb Castle – where Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan, and known as the Wolf of Badenoch, had his lair – and its surroundings, some of which are classed as being areas of great landscape value (AGLV).
Objectors also voiced their concerns about the developments’ effect on the tourism industry of nearby towns, claiming most of their visitors would not return if they were faced with wind turbines in the hills.
After councillors inspected the locations in the morning, they were faced by a group of banner-carrying protesters outside the local authority’s headquarters in Inverness.
Peter Moynan, project director for SKM Enviros, who did the environmental impact assessment for Eurus Energy UK, argued that the potential impact on the landscape had been significantly overestimated.
He said: “We believe that from key locations in the AGLV where it will be visible, the windfarm will appear +on the periphery of the natural view-shed without compromising the scale and simplistic qualities of the moorland and the AGLV designation.”
Charles Sandham, chief executive of Infinergy, claimed its development was a “compact and detailed design” which had received a “mountain” of support from local communities.
Inverness councillor Thomas Prag said: “I am not pro or anti-windfarms and I do think that there are some that do add to the views of the landscape.
“However, this is not the case here. What we have is extremely rare, in the UK and the rest of Europe. We have a very special landscape and, on visual grounds, this particular windfarm would be in the wrong place.”
Badenoch councillor Stuart Black added: “It’s marvellous that we still have an unspoiled area like this. It’s wonderful and we need to keep it this way.”
The committee agreed to lodge an objection to the Glenkirk windfarm proposals and its 10-mile access road, including a bridge over the River Findhorn. This application will be decided by the Scottish Government because of its size.
The committee also agreed to back planning officer’s recommendation and reject the smaller Tom nan Clach application. Both decisions were unanimous.
Mr Moynan said later: “It wasn’t unexpected given the officer’s recommendation. Now we have to wait for the written report before taking any further action.”
Charles Sandham, chief executive of Infinergy, said the company would be appealing against the council’s decision.
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