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New clash over planned turbine scheme for Ben Wyvis

The vast majority of residents of a Black Isle community which faces Ben Wyvis are against plans to build seventeen 126.5-metre turbines below the iconic Ross mountain.

Ferintosh Community Council claims the Clach Liath proposal is a “wind farm too far” as it will complete an arc of turbines around the mountain with two existing schemes which will dominate the views of Ben Wyvis.

Following a survey which found 93 per cent of those who responded were opposed to the plans, the community council has launched a campaign against a bid by Falck Renewables to erect the turbines on Clach Liath.

However, the company behind the development, which would cover 412 hectares and be complete by 2014, say the site at Swordale Moor near Evanton is a “good location” for a wind farm.

Coriolis Energy LLP is seeking planning permission on behalf of Falck Renewables Wind Limited to construct and operate the new wind farm development.

It has lodged an application for 17 turbines and access tracks, borrow pits, substation, officer, control building and masts at land east of Meall Na Speireig.

The company’s non-technical summary of the proposal states the wind farm would have a significant impact on the view of Ben Wyvis from the Black Isle and from seven other viewpoints around the area, however an assessment has found there would be “clear separation” between it and the wind farms at Novar and Fairburn.

A spokeswoman told the Journal yesterday: “We feel this site on Swordale Moor is a good location for a wind farm.

“It lies outside the designated Special Landscape Area and also avoids any areas with environmental protection.

“There are no nearby houses – the closest house is more than 2km away.

“We know it would be visible from parts of the Black Isle and for this reason the wind farm has been designed to sit well in the form of the landscape when viewed from the south.

“For example, we have avoided breaking the skyline in the view from Culbokie, which lies at some eight kilometres distance.

“In this way visual impact is contained by being backdropped in the landscape.”

The community council says its argument against the development focuses on the “visual impact” and “cumulative visual impact” on the panorama from their area.

Bruce Morrison, the chair of Ferintosh Community Council said: “Following a consultation, which we requested with the developers of Clach Liath, we conducted an exit poll and gathered the views of residents.

“It was clear both from our data and also the independent data now published by the developers that over 70 per cent were against the development.

“The developers then submitted an altered plan to us that reduced the number of turbines from 18 to 17 and lowered the position of the two highest turbines.

“We sent out an e-mail to local residents explaining the changes and asked afresh their view and 93 per cent of those who responded were against the wind farm.

“At a subsequent monthly meeting where the new proposal was put to the meeting and fully discussed, those residents present unanimously backed a decision to object to the wind farm proposal.

“On the basis of that evidence, FCC agreed to begin a campaign of objection to the Clach Liath, Ben Wyvis wind farm.”

Mr Morrison said that two wind farms are already visible from the Ferintosh area – one at Novar which has already been extended and the other, at Fairburn, which has a proposal for an extension.

“Our argument for excessive cumulative visual impact lies in the existing intrusion of wind farms in the full panorama from our area.

“With the Novar and Fairburn wind farms already prominent only the middle section with the Ben Wyvis massif is currently empty.

“If granted permission this proposed wind farm will complete an arc of such developments, surely an excessive accumulation.