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Caithness turbine objector in wind theft claim

A renewable energy developer is claiming a plan to erect four new turbines near its wind farm in Caithness would affect its productivity.

US-based Ellis Hall Consultants has objected to the application submitted by Caithness Power Ltd to build four 800KW wind turbines at Upper Smerral, Houstry.

The proposed development lies 1.5km from the existing Buolfruich Wind Farm, six miles north of Dunbeath.

The proposal will go before the North planning applications committee on Tuesday.

According to Ellis Hall Consultants’ objection statement – contained in the report – it will have an adverse impact on the firm’s 15 turbines which are based at Buolfruich.

The company claims the proposed Smerral cluster will capture wind it currently uses at its development, resulting in a reduction in production by as much as 25 per cent.

As the Groat went to press yesterday, no-one was available for comment from the company which is run by Anthony Hall and Kathryn Hall.

However, Cameron Sutherland, an agent for Caithness Power Ltd, said the claims made by the owners of Buolfruich were “utter nonsense”.

“The figures that were touted in the objection to the application by the wind-farm owners are not correct,” he said.

“For their claims to be valid, the 15 turbines at Buolfruich would have to be stealing wind energy from each other.

“If you look at the problem logically, if you space the turbines out, as we are proposing, there will be leak losses of around three per cent within the project itself.

“If you consider the separation of 1.5km distance between the proposed project and the turbines in Buolfruich, the claim of stealing wind from the site is completely wrong.”

The author of the report, Highland Council development management team leader David Mudie, states that while the objector’s claims have not been substantiated, it is possible there could be some loss of productivity in certain wind conditions.

He writes there is no specific policy on protecting the productivity of existing wind energy developments.

The proposal from Caithness Power Ltd has been recommended for refusal.

The reasons given for refusal argue the application is contrary to the authority’s policy of wind energy developments in the Highland-wide local development plan as it would result in unacceptable visual impacts to the detriment of individual and community amenities both on its own and in combination with existing and proposed wind energy developments.

Mr Mudie claims the development would result in potential significant adverse effects such as noise and shadow flicker that would not result in justifiable strategic benefit.

The turbines proposed are 80 metres in height and would have the capacity to generate 2.4MW of electricity.

The site is located near the proposed Dunbeath wind farm from Welsh company West Coast Developers which plans to install 22 wind turbines near the village.

A total of 68 letters of representation have submitted concerning the Caithness Power Ltd proposal at Upper Smerral with 41 objecting to the development.

The Dunbeath Preservation Trust is objecting to the development stating the potential impact it could have on the cultural value of the area.

Berriedale and Dunbeath Community Council have said that it is maintaining a neutral stance on the issue, supporting it on the basis agricultural diversification to keep people in employment in the area and assist the local economy, but also recognising the potential negative impact on nearby properties.