An expert yesterday claimed a proposed windfarm would have little visual impact on homes near the site – despite failing to visit the properties.
Landscape architect Marc van Grieken was giving evidence on the first day of the planning inquiry into plans tabled by Druim Ba Sustainable Energy.
The firm wants to build 23 turbines 490ft high in woodland on the Blairmore Estate, near Kiltarlity.
Mr van Grieken said he assessed the visual impact on 57 properties which lie within 1.2 miles of the site.
He acknowledged there would be an adverse visual impact on 27 homes while it would be a moderate or medium visual impact on others.
The witness told Gordon Steele QC, representing Druim Ba Sustainable Energy: “My opinion is, however, that the development would not be overbearing or dominate the views.
“It would not be the case that the turbines would be overwhelming to neighbouring properties or make them an unpleasant place to live.”
But during cross-examination by advocate James Findlay, the landscape architect admitted he had not actually visited the houses he was assessing.
He used drawings and maps to reach his conclusions, the inquiry heard.
Mr Findlay said: “Would you agree that when the reporter is considering your evidence he should take that fact into account?”
Mr van Grieken replied: “He will look at all the evidence.”
Mr Findlay, representing Highland Council, local residents and community councils, added: “But your evidence has a caveat about it in that you didn’t visit the particular properties.”
The developer claims the windfarm will generate enough electricity for 38,000 homes and has the potential to bring £100million of investment.
The inquiry was called because of the size of the development.
Scottish Government Reporter Dan Jackman will decide on the proposal.
Yesterday’s hearing was also told the company has been accused of “omitting” totally from its investigations a number of houses within the 1.2-mile range.
Mr Findlay said residents claimed there were 111 houses in that range, but only 90 were assessed by the company in its environmental statement.
He said: “There are some significant omissions including the Glen View Chalet Park. Would you consider that significant?”
Mr van Grieken said: “I think it is an important omission and one that should be noted.”
Mr Findlay also suggested that residents had flagged up a series of “discrepancies” in the environmental statement relating to screening, location of houses and magnitude of visual impact. He said: “Residents have highlighted 10 examples where there are screening issues that have been missed out, 18 examples where locations are wrong and 21 to do with magnitude of impact. If they are right would you say that proves a significant amount of times where they are serious discrepancies in the environmental statement?”
Mr van Grieken said he did not agree with the residents’ statement.
The inquiry continues.
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