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‘Save our Straths’ wind farm protest

A scattered Ross-shire community which faces having two nearby wind turbines for every household has set up a Save our Straths campaign and website to protest against the latest proposal.

Save our Straths was established by Ardross residents following a public meeting where members of the community were unanimous in their concern about the proposed 43-turbine Glenmorie wind farm development and the disastrous effect it would have on the area.

The UK’s leading wild land conservation charity, The John Muir Trust, has also objected this week to the plans for the wind farm on the Kildermorie and Glencalvie estates.

Ardross residents claim they already have 65 turbines surrounding the village, and with applications and scoping for more nearby wind farms, they could have 125 encircling the small community, which they say is two turbines for every household.

They claim the project will cover 2,200 ha, be built on the side of Carn Chuinneag and will have a significant impact on views from Ben Wyvis and Cnoc Fyrish.

Developers Wind Energy submitted plans last month to the Scottish Government for the wind farm and if approved it would provide enough electricity to power about 90,000 homes.

Ardross Community Council secretary, John Edmondson, told the Journal this week, “The important thing to emphasise is this is not nimbyism, this is about our community, and we want this part of our amenity protected or we will be completely surrounded by these things.

“It is a question of wild land that the government should be protecting and it is also about proportionate development and trying to protect some of our amenity.”

He said the people of Ardross felt Glenmorie is “a wind farm too far” and it was decided at a recent public meeting that they should object to this proposal.

Mr Edmondson said the proposed development is right on the edge of wild land and on a drove road a popular right of way between Easter Ross and Wester Ross which is used for Duke of Edinburgh training.

He said the turbines will all be in the community council’s area within Easter Ross and will be highly visible from Strathrusdale, which he described as a “very special glen”.

The Save our Straths website encourages people to send in objections about the proposal to Highland Council and the Energy Consent Unit and to write to local politicians expressing their concerns.

The John Muir Trust is concerned about Glenmorie’s proximity to a special area for wild land and believes it would affect views from Ben Wyvis, the Fannichs, Beinn Dearg and the Dornoch Firth, including around Skibo Castle.

Steven Turnbull, policy officer for the John Muir Trust, said, “The impacts of the wind farm on the landscape would be significant and completely inappropriate for an area of wild land. Even though the applicant has acknowledged these impacts, they’ve offered little evidence to support their decision to proceed regardless.”

Natasha Rai of Glenmorie Wind Farm LLP responded by saying, “The development has not been proposed within any wild land and therefore will not have a direct effect on this feature. The turbines will be visible from certain parts of wild land but there are parts of wild land which will not gain any visibility of the development.

“An in-depth Environmental Impact Assessment has been undertaken to consider potential impacts on ecology, birds, noise, landscape and visual amenity, hydrology and peat, cultural heritage, transport, local land use and recreational access, and tourism.

“Measures to avoid any adverse affects have been incorporated into the design. Tourism in the local area employs fewer people than in the Highlands as a whole. The wind farm would provide improved access for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.

“This would result in an increase of visitors to the local area and encourage people to explore the wild land heritage. According to the 2008 tourism study undertaken on behalf of the Scottish Government by Glasgow Caledonian University there is no evidence to suggest that wind farms have a serious negative economic effect on tourists.

“If the wind farm is granted permission, local firms and local people would be used in its construction. This would create jobs in the local area during the construction and decommissioning of the wind farm. The development could contribute £6million over the lifetime of the wind farm to the local area including jobs and access to training.

“In addition there will be a community benefit fund of over £8million over the lifetime of the wind farm which will be administered directly to the local communities.”

Glenmorie wind farm is being developed by Wind Energy which is 51 per cent owned by AES, and 49 per cent owned by UK based-shareholders.