Conservation charity RSPB Scotland has condemned a decision by a developer to appeal a second ruling by ministers to refuse consent for a wind farm near Inveraray.
In a statement, RSPB Scotland describes the move, by joint developers RidgeWind and Wind Prospect, as “wholly irresponsible”, and “damaging to the industry’s green credentials”.
The statement continues: “It is also a huge waste of money and a drain on precious public resources that are already under pressure.”
The proposed Stacain Wind Farm, situated on the ridge of hills between Inveraray and Dalmally, will comprise 14 turbines. These are likely to be rated at 2.3MW each, giving the whole wind farm a rated capacity of 32.2MW. Each turbine will be approximately 65 metres to the hub with 45 metre blades, resulting in a maximum tip height of 110 metres.
A planning application for the project was first submitted to Argyll and Bute Council in April 2005. The local authority approved it in December 2007 but, in the following March, the application was called in by the Scottish Government. The reason given for this was the need to consider issues raised by Scottish Natural Heritage during a public local inquiry.
The developers appealed after Scottish ministers rejected the application in October 2009, primarily because of the scheme’s possible impact on golden eagle populations.
Now, the developers are planning to appeal – for the second time – against the refusal of their application.
Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland, said: “The developers’ continued insistence on this wholly inappropriate wind farm is damaging the reputation of the industry.”
He added: “This latest appeal smacks of desperation and shows the developers have little regard for wildlife.
“This project has twice been refused by Scottish ministers because of its damaging impact on golden eagles, and yet the developers persist in appealing to the courts.”
RidgeWind and Wind Prospect claim a large amount of money will be fed into the local economy during the construction phase.
On the RidgeWind website the company states:
“A community trust fund will be set up which will receive a portion of the revenue generated by the wind farm. The amount offered is based on the yearly output and will continue over the 25 year life time of the project.”
A number of wind farms are already either operational or planned for the range of high hills between Loch Fyne and Loch Awe.
To the north, and just to the south east of the proposed Stacain development, lies the Clachan Flats wind farm above Cairndow, comprising nine turbines operated by Scottish Power Renewables.
To the south of Inveraray, the 23-turbine an Suidhe scheme, by RWE npower Renewables, punctures the skies from the viewpoint of east Loch Fyne.
Further south still, a proposal for a 20 turbine scheme at the back of Minard was submitted to Argyll and Bute Council last month by A’Chruach Wind Farm Ltd.
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