Strath residents are being rallied to take on developer Force 9 Energy and its bid to erect nine wind turbines on the northern outskirts of Crieff.
Local lady Maureen Beaumont said this week she would like to see as many people as possible oppose the plans, which she argued would have a detrimental effect on the major tourist route.
The former Foulford Inn patron is no stranger to battling the big companies having fought a similar application in the Sma’ Glen for 24 turbines in 2003. That action took three years to defeat so Mrs Beaumont is under no illusions about having a potentially long drawn-out process on her hands.
“I’m putting my head above the parapet to take on Force 9’s plans,” she told the Herald, “as I feel that this application is totally inappropriate for the area and could go under the radar if people don’t come together to oppose it vigorously.
“They’re calling the site Mull Hill. I’ve lived here for nearly 40 years and have never know it as that. It’s known locally as Connachan Hill – Connachan with its very famous sheep.
“The turbines are going to be highly visible from the tourist route as are the new roads that would need to be created. It will link in on the other side of the A822 road from the Beauly/Denny line. The visual impact on the area would be huge.”
Mrs Beaumont has appealed for like-minded locals to come forward and help with the campaign to fight the application and will shortly be calling a public meeting. She encouraged those who feel strongly about the impact the turbines will have on the Strath skyline to send separate letters of objection to Perth and Kinross Council.
She said she was also concerned that nine turbines would only be the start and that eventually there would be more.
“Although Force 9 give assurances that this wouldn’t be the case they are not in a position to give such assurances as once these wind farms are up and running they sell them on to an operator who is not bound by the conditions. Once they get their toe in the door, all the arguments about pristine landscape go out the window.”
And, Mrs Beaumont said she feels people are being misled by the community fund that is being offered. “The community fund is in no way a ‘free gift’ from either the developer or the landowner,” she added. “The consumer is paying for it in their electricity bills.
“Force 9 claim to be actively consulting residents and are making out that people are satisfied with their proposals but they are misleading people with the information provided in the ‘results’ of their survey, which was based on responses from only 50 people. You couldn’t send a postal response as no address was supplied!
“If anyone wants to see how people are objecting in other areas, they can log on to www.stopdorcaslaneturbines.com. This group got in touch with me recently as Force 9 are doing the same thing in their area.’’
Local MSP Elizabeth Smith is keeping an eye on the application.
She said: “As the Mull Hill planning application progresses the most important issue is that the voice of local people and local community groups is properly heard without prejudice or constraints being placed on time.
“There are too many situations where the interpretation of planning legislation has been seen to disadvantage the voice of the local community. I very much hope that this will not be the case in relation to Mull Hill.”
Anyone who would like to be part of a formal protest group can contact Mrs Beaumont on 01764 652 407 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.