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MSP claims Calliacher wind farm plan is a ‘slap in face’ to the community

An energy firm has been accused of riding “roughshod” over Highland Perthshire communities after officially lodging controversial proposals.

Although Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has already been given consent to create the 14-turbine development at Calliacher near Aberfeldy, it requires further permission to make amendments.

Details of the application, which would see the overall height of the turbines rise by 10% to almost 110 metres, were unveiled at a public exhibition at Amulree village hall earlier this year.

Construction of the wind farm is due to begin next year.

Among those speaking out against the latest plans is Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser, who described this proposal as a “slap in the face.”

He told The Courier, “It is very disappointing that SSE has now officially lodged an application with Perth and Kinross Council to extend the height of the wind turbines.

“Once again the concerns of the local communities in Highland Perthshire are being ridden roughshod over. One of the primary reasons for the original application to be rejected by the council was due to its visual impact on the surrounding area.

“For SSE to put in an application to increase the height of the turbines is a slap in the face to the local communities affected by the wind farm development.”

John Muir Trust policy officer Steven Turnbull said, “The application by SSE to increase the height of the wind turbines at Calliacher is not surprising, particularly as construction has yet to begin, but it is disappointing nonetheless, given the length of time taken to make a decision on the original proposal.

“The new turbine height may only have a marginal additional visual impact on the local landscape, but the John Muir Trust remains concerned that the Calliacher development will be visible from Schiehallion, a mountain which attracts up to 20,000 walkers a year.

“From what I can see on the SSE website, the new application does nothing to allay these concerns.”

Developers originally sought approval for a 27-turbine scheme, which was rejected in 2007, only for a revised 14-turbine plan to emerge a year later.

When that was also turned down by the local authority, the developer took its case to ministers.

After a lengthy and expensive public inquiry, a reporter granted permission for the wind farm in July last year.

Mr Fraser added, “The Calliacher wind farm development was rejected by the local community and rejected by Perth and Kinross Council. The SNP government overruled local opinion and forced through this application.

“The people of Highland Perthshire have already had to endure years of uncertainty due to the continued efforts by developers to succeed in obtaining planning permission for a wind farm development at Calliacher.

“I do not want to see a repeat of local opinion being trampled on, and we must not see the green light for the Calliacher wind turbines to be increased in size,” he added.

While SSE Generation Ltd claims that the increase in size will result in “greater wind energy capture” and increased efficiency, each turbine would still only have a maximum generating capacity of 2.3 megawatts.

This means that even if these plans were given the green light, the wind farm would still only be able to produce 32.2MW at the most – the same output as the smaller turbines.

Explaining the reasons behind the modified design, the Perth-based energy firm’s community liaison officer Noel Cummins said, “The larger rotor results in a larger swept area and therefore a greater wind energy capture and conversion into energy, meaning for the same wind resource a larger rotor is more productive.”