Some of the tallest wind turbines in Scotland could be built in Inverness-shire, under new proposals revealed yesterday to local people who will live in the shadow of the machines.
Up to 28 towers, which measure around 492ft (150m) from their base to the tip of the blade, could be erected on land between Kiltarlity and Drumnadrochit in the Druim Ba Forest.
If they are granted permission, they will tower higher than any other wind turbine in the Highlands and they will be taller than the 459ft-tall (140m) turbines planned for the extension of Europe’s largest onshore windfarm at Whitelee, near Glasgow.
Some local residents have raised concerns about the plans, including their visual impact on the picturesque area, but at a consultation meeting yesterday they were told they could benefit from a community fund of more than £8million.
Druim Ba Sustainable Energy (DBSE), which owns the land and will construct and operate the turbines, claims the massive windfarm, which could produce enough electricity to meet the needs of 40,000 households, could be up and running in 2013.
At a consultation meeting at Kiltarlity Village Hall yesterday DBSE director Debbie Chawner said they expected to create about 100 jobs for local people during the construction phase, which will take up to a year-and-a-half.
She said the turbines would stand for 25 years before they were obliged to remove the towers and restore the site to its original state.
Ms Chawner added: “We see onshore wind as a fantastic bridge for renewable energy today. It’s proven technology. We think that in the future, when this windfarm’s life comes to an end, other energies will take its place.”
She said DBSE is committed to becoming part of the local community. “We don’t want to construct and go. We want to make a genuine contribution to the community.”
One community council member said he was fairly “neutral” on the subject, though he said they had chosen a prominent location for the development.
“It’s going to be seen from an awful lot of places and it does seem very close to an area of population – it’s not a desolate moor. I would think that people would be perhaps a bit worried over it for that reason.
“I met a number of people at the exhibition who are very strongly against it. They were largely people who lived closer to it. But there were other people there who were neutral about it.”
Marketing consultant Shauna Jennens, 49, who lives at Foxhole, said she would be able to see the turbines from her house. She described them as a blot on the landscape and questioned their efficiency.
Ms Jennens said: “All the cyclists, the Harley club, and all the tourist buses use that road and it’s right on the Great Glen Way which the government has spent a fortune on promoting.”
Jane Nair, 52, a teaching assistant who is also from Foxhole, believes they could have a detrimental effect on tourism.
Another exhibition of the proposals will be held at Abriachan village hall today and at the Priory Hotel at Beauly on Thursday, with both running from noon until 9pm. A second round of consultations will be held next spring before the plans go before the Scottish Government.
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