Arguably most controversial issue affecting Scotland’s treasured landscape is the development of wind farms, with Perth and Kinross and surrounding areas often the focus of attention.
In Highland Perthshire the wind farm development at Calliachar on the upland area between Amulree and Aberfeldy was given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government despite fierce opposition and Perth and Kinross Council’s refusal of planning permission.
Now the total height of the 14 turbines is to be increased by 10%, from 100m to almost 110m, after the developers of the wind farm, SSE Generation Ltd, successfully applied for a variation of the wind turbines consent which was granted on appeal.
Having lost that appeal in July 2010, Perth and Kinross Council’s development control committee this week had little option but to approve this variation, which the energy company said would increase output from the 14 turbines by some 19%.
The council’s development quality manager Nick Brian’s 35-page report to committee concluded with a recommendation for approval subject to the developers complying with an extensive list of 68 conditions, many of which related to the management of traffic to and from the construction site.
The committee ruefully agreed that lessons had been learned during the construction of the nearby Griffin wind farm when local residents in particular endured a long period of disruption created by the very heavy traffic.
In regard to those problems, one of the conditions which will apply to the Calliachar wind farm requires the developer to consult with all local communities in the Trochry-Amulree-Scotston area as part of a traffic management scheme which must be approved by the council before construction starts.
The extensive catalogue of conditions was highlighted by local man Ian Kelly, who addressed the committee on behalf of the many objectors to the application.
“If a development of a small wind farm really needs 68 conditions to be attached to a detailed planning permission to make it acceptable, then there is something far wrong with the development in the first place,” he asserted.
Mr Kelly, however, in taking cognisance of the Scottish minister’s decision on appeal, and their award of costs against the council, said he accepted the council could not refuse the application, even though he argued that no appropriate assessment had been made by the ministers during the appeal process.
Instead, Mr Kelly called for the development control committee to defer their decision and instruct council officers to prepare a full report on the application.
The committee expressed disappointment at the Scottish Government Reporter’s desision to allow the Calliachar wind farm to proceed.
Councillor John Kellas pointed out: “We have to live with that decision and work within it.
“I think if we prevaricate longer with a deferral or refusal we would achieve very little except additional cost.”
The committee unanimously “with regret” approved the application.
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