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Views sought on new guidance for wind-energy projects

Highland Council has prepared new planning guidance for wind-energy developments and now wants to hear what residents, developers and interested groups think about it.

The new guidance will be used in the consideration of planning applications and will be used in conjunction with, and will supplement, the Highland-wide local development plan, which the council published as a proposal in autumn 2010.

The guidance deals specifically with the development of wind turbines in onshore locations. It will replace some parts of the Highland Renewable Energy Strategy and Planning Guidelines document of 2006.

The deadline for comments is 5pm on Friday, June 24.

Councillor Ian Ross, chairman of the planning, environment and development committee, said: “The council is working hard to promote development of a wide range of renewable energy types, including wave, tidal and offshore wind. More onshore wind energy development, including further large windfarms, will continue to be needed in Highland if renewable energy targets are to be met.

“Our new guidance encourages developers to look at the least constrained areas of Highland, where development of windfarms would have a lesser impact. There are some other areas of Highland where we would wish to give significant protection – particularly because of the importance of designated and other sites. This will also help to address people’s concerns over the apparent concentration of several windfarms in the same area of the Highlands and the impact this can have on the wider landscape and particular scenic views – this is often referred to as cumulative impact.” He added: “The guidance covers the whole of the Highlands. However, some parts of Highland are under greater pressure for windfarm development than others. We have therefore focussed our work on landscape and visual issues and developed more detailed guidance for the Monadhliath area and the Caithness area. We are keen to get people’s feedback on that in particular.”

[The draft guidance document (and supporting studies) is available on the Council’s website:
highland.gov.uk/yourenvironment/planning/developmentplans/developmentplanpolicyguidance/windenergyspg.htm.
]