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Opposition grows against 413ft-high wind turbine plan  

Credit:  By Caroline McMorran, The Northern Times, www.northern-times.co.uk 27 January 2011 ~~

Opposition is growing to a planned 27-turbine wind farm in central Sutherland which has been dubbed “a wind farm too far” by a local councillor.

An action group has been formed to fight the 81Mw development at Braemore, some four miles south west of Lairg.

At 126 metres or 413ft high and with a 3Mw output, opponents maintain the proposed turbines are amongst the tallest in Britain and will “wreck” the landscape.

However, this is strongly denied by developers Braemore Wind who counter that they are merely a standard size in the industry.

The company – a joint venture between Wind Prospect and Alpha Wind – also claims that opposition to Braemore comes from a “small but vocal minority.”

Objectors have now placed an advert in this week’s edition of The Northern Times warning about the impact the wind farm will have on the area.

As it is over 50Mw, it will be determined by the Scottish Government, although Highland Council is a statutory consultee.

They are also distributing leaflets in public places in the area, including Bonar Bridge library, urging people to lodge objections to the development.

The action group want as many people as possible to write in protest to constituency MSP Jamie Stone, list MSPs and Highland Council’s director of planning and development Stuart Black.

Invershin resident, Sandy Chalmers, is one of the action group leaders.

He said: “We’re want to get our message across because there is very little time to object to the proposal. The deadline is a week Monday, 7th February.”

Mr Chalmers said the development, which will be plainly seen from the A836 Lairg to Bonar Bridge road, would affect residents at Invershin, Linside, Inveran, Achany, Strathkyle and Altass.

He estimated there were around 50 houses within two kilometres of the wind farm site.

And he said that if Braemore was to go ahead, it would bring the number of turbines sited along the hills adjacent to the Kyle up to 69.

The formation of the group follows a meeting of concerned residents held in Invershin Village Hall a fortnight ago.

Councillor Robbie Rowantree, who attended the meeting, later said that the Kyle of Sutherland had made its contribution to wind energy and Braemore was a “wind farm too far.”

Creich Community Council voted to object to the Braemore proposal at its meeting last week. Chairman Pete Campbell said: “Quite a few members of the public came to the meeting in a bid to persuade us that we should lodge an objection and that is pretty much what we decided to do.

“We took a vote and the consensus was that we should object.”

He added: “There is a very big upswell of people who don’t want this development and think it is just too close to their homes.

“I think if you went round the houses in Linside, Inveran and Altass, you wouldn’t find a single resident in support of it.”

However, Damian Aubrey, development manager for Braemore Wind said he was surprised to hear about the action group and the upsurge of opposition.

“We’ve held a couple of public exhibitions over the last two years, the most recent one in September, and we registered quite a lot of support at these from the local community,” he said.

“We have also held meetings with the three neighbouring community councils and had a lot of dialogue with members of the pubic and we’re not getting any feedback that it is unpopular.

“What we are finding with the Braemore site, as with a lot of our wind farm developments, is that there tends to be a small but vocal minority who sound as if they are representing the majority.”

On the issue of the cumulative effect of Braemore along with the other wind farms either in situ or planned, Mr Aubrey said: “There are policies out there that we try to follow as to where to locate our wind farms. There is a presumption against turbines where there are none already.

“What we have tried to do with Braemore is to sit it comfortably next to the existing Achany wind farm.”

Source:  By Caroline McMorran, The Northern Times, www.northern-times.co.uk 27 January 2011

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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