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Councillors turn down plan for contentious far north windfarm  

Credit:  By Iain Grant, The Press and Journal, www.pressandjournal.co.uk 17 November 2010 ~~

Objectors to a proposed windfarm in north Caithness have won the first round of their battle with a large power company.

The 13-turbine scheme planned for Durran Mains, near Castletown, was unanimously turned down yesterday after a planning hearing.

They are now gearing up to counter SSE Generations Ltd’s expected appeal against the decision of Highland Council’s Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross planning committee.

After visitng the site, the councillors agreed with the recommendation of their officials to reject the scheme.

The turbines were earmarked for land adjoining the small settlements of Achingills, Hilliclay, Knockdee, Stemster and Durran.

It includes land on Tister Farm, Durran Mains and Fryster.

The application attracted 422 objections and 271 letters of support.

In the anti-camp are Bower and Dunnet & Canisbay community councils while Halkirk Community Council took a neutral stance.

Historic Scotland objected because of the likely impact on five ancient cairns.

Scottish Natural Heritage opposed the development because of potential to damage the landscape in combination with other proposed and operational windfarms.

The RSPB objected because of the projected number of casualties among whooper swans and greylag geese colliding with turbines.

Principal planner Gordon Mooney said the windfarm would breach six policies within the Highland and Caithness development plans.

Mr Mooney was also concerned about the impact on the north Caithness landscape when taken with a clutch of existing and proposed windfarms.

The development, he claimed, would also impinge upon scenic viewpoints enjoyed from main tourist routes He concluded: “The benefits of the proposal must be weighed against potential drawbacks.”

SSE project manager Jon Soal said it had scaled back the development from the 32 turbines which had been initially proposed.

“We’ve adapted the design to accommodate local sensitivities,” he said.

Mr Soal claimed that in assessing the development, councillors should not consider windfarms which have not been constructed or consented.

He added that while to is not unusual for locals to oppose windfarms, he said there has been a remarkably high level of support for the scheme.

Tister farmer Alistair Swanson said the scheme will generate up to 19.5MW of green energy as well as provide construction jobs and economic diversification for six local households.

He disputed the feared effect it would have on the cairns and maintained it would fit well into the landscape.

Source:  By Iain Grant, The Press and Journal, www.pressandjournal.co.uk 17 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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