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Windfarm plan is rejected after Gleneagles objection

A windfarm which would have been seen from Gleneagles Hotel has been refused permission because of the effect it would have on the resort.

The hotel owners were among a group of objectors to the eight-turbine scheme at Standingfauld Farm, near Muthill.

They claimed the unspoilt views across Strathearn would be blemished and turn visitors to the five-star hotel and nearby Gwest luxury development away from the area.

The application was knocked back by Perth and Kinross Council in May but developers Standingfauld Wind Energy, a subsidiary of West Coast Energy, appealed to the Scottish Government for that decision to be overturned.

Reporter Dan Jackman upheld the decision, saying the windfarm would have had “an adverse impact on the landscape character and visual amenities of the area.”

Although he said the views from within the grounds of Gleneagles would be “minor”, he said: “I agree with Gleneagles Hotel that the large number of visitors to it and the proposed Gwest development would not confine themselves to the respective complexes.

“They would therefore experience views of the windfarm as they travelled around the area and this should be considered.”

He added: “I consider the landscape impact to be harmful and this harmful impact would extend well beyond the immediate area of the wind farm site.

“I accept that any windfarm would introduce tall vertical features and be a noticeable feature in the landscape.”

Mr Jackman said: “However, there are design choices regarding the degree of impact, depending on the numbers and heights of the turbines.

“I do not consider that the proposal represents a good landscape fit or that the impacts on the landscape have been minimised by the design choices regarding the number and height of the turbines.

“Anyone living within the 10km zone, visitors to Gleneagles Hotel and the proposed G West complex, visitors and users of the main and country travel routes (including the A9 and railway) would all be able to see the proposal from numerous viewpoints as they travelled about the area.”

He added: “A significant number of people would therefore experience the detrimental landscape impact I have identified.

“I consider that this would result in adverse visual impacts experienced by many people.”

Mr Jackman also confirmed what many antiOchils windfarm campaigners have claimed, that the area is suffering from the cumulative impact of various projects in the hills.

He said: “A large number of residents and visitors would experience this adverse impact.

“This would be further compounded by being able, from some viewpoints, also to experience the other existing windfarms and the new Beauly-Denny pylon line.”

He added:

“I therefore consider that the proposal would be contrary to the objectives of the development plan and Scottish planning policy that seek acceptable landscape and visual impacts for windfarm development.”

One bonus from the site he did identify was the economic benefits for local businesses and job creation as a form of rural diversification.

He said: “However, I consider the harm to the landscape character and visual amenities of the area that I have previously identified outweigh these benefits in this particular instance,” he added.

Bill Thomson, chairman of the protest body, Standingfauld Environmental Action Group, said: “It’s absolutely right and proper that Perth and Kinross Council’s earlier rejection of the proposal has been upheld.

“Clearly the local community who have fought long and hard against this inappropriately sited proposal are delighted and hugely relieved at this outcome.“

He added: “I would like to thank publicly all those in the community, the Gleneagles Hotel, Gwest and many others who supported the campaign over a very long stressful and expensive two years.”

Gleneagles Hotel declined to comment.