March 21, 2011

D-Day for 410ft turbines as plan faces strong opposition

By Jane Candlish, The Press and Journal, 21 March 2011

More than 500 objections received against Corriemoillie windfarm

Highland councillors will be asked this week to approve plans for a 19-turbine windfarm near Garve – despite the plans receiving more than 500 written objections.

E.ON Climate and Renewables wants to build the Corriemoillie windfarm.

The 47.5MW development will involve turbines about 410ft tall. A 229ft high anemometry mast – used to measure wind speed – is also proposed at the south of the 1,213-acre site.

It would be immediately adjacent to, and share access with, the Lochluichart windfarm, which was built in the past two years and involves 17 turbines. It is understood that the developer wishes to extend the windfarm.

But, while 86 people wrote in support of the development, some 505 people have written to the council to object.

Their concerns include the impact on the landscape and protected species, the effect on tourism in the area and an increase in traffic.

Supporters say that the development will provide clean energy and support local employment.

The site is mostly commercial forestry, although it is not being actively managed. While the site has no special conservation designations, it sits close to many spots which have.

These include the Beinn Dearg Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which has importance for bird breeding; and the Achanalt Marshes SSSI, which is home to an important population of sandpipers.

However parts of the windfarm site have been observed to have signs of activity by badgers, bats and red throated divers.

Scottish Natural Heritage has highlighted the fact that red-throated divers have been seen travelling across the Corriemoillie site, but has said that the company’s proposals to mitigate the impact on the species are acceptable.

SNH has also advised that surveys for otter, bats and wildcats should be carried out before construction.

The application has been recommended for approval, subject to conditions covering issues such as the design of the turbines, a wildlife survey and the timetable of construction.

Planning officer David Mudie said: “The visual impact of the development, while significant, is not considered to be significantly detrimental to amenity either on its own or when taken cumulatively with Lochluichart.

“While some visitors may be deterred from returning, given the type of activities pursued by visitors to the area, it is not considered that the proposal would be significantly detrimental to tourism in the locality.”

Members of the Ross, Skye and Lochaber planning applications committee will visit the site on Tuesday, before meeting to decide the application in Dingwall.

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