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Wind farm plan to be reviewed

Highland Council officials are to meet in Thurso later this month to review a wind farm application which was previously rejected.

RES UK and Ireland Ltd, which run Forss Wind Farm, near Thurso, have been granted the review after their plans to install a further five turbines at the site were thrown out last year.

The Highland Council’s planning board turned down the application in October over concerns about the development’s detrimental impact on the landscape and residential homes as well as the cultural heritage of the area.

However, RES UK argued the application had not attracted any objections from statutory consultees while it conformed to Scottish planning policy.

Development project manager Graeme Kerr said that given the approval of the turbines currently operating at Forss, he felt it was an appropriate area for wind energy development.

“The turbines we are proposing for the extension of the wind farm will be seen in conjunction with those already operating at Forss Wind Farm, which are an established part of the local landscape,” he said.

“This is reflected in the consultation process from Scottish Natural Heritage who considered that there would not be any significant additional adverse impacts on the landscape character of the surrounding area arising from this proposal.”

RES UK has also called for the review on the grounds the refusal was made by a planning officer who used delegated decision-making powers.

It stated it is important for Highland councillors, who represent the views of the local community, to have their say on developments in the area.

Chairman of the planning review body Thomas Prag agreed for the site visit to take place on Thursday, July 19.

The review will be staged at North Highland College UHI in Thurso later that morning when the meeting will be broadcast live on the Highland Council website.

The wind farm is based on the former US naval site at Forss and part agricultural land at Borrowston Farm.

The first two turbines were installed in 2003 with a further four erected in 2007.

The nature of the development which is under review includes an extension to the existing Forss Wind Farm including five turbines with a maximum wind tip of 81m, up to 3.6km of new and upgraded access tracks, a substation and switchgear building and compound, two temporary meteorological masts and two temporary construction compounds and access.