Plans to build a £9.5 million cluster of wind turbines on an Angus hillside have been thrown out by a Scottish Government representative.
A development at Finavon, near Forfar, was judged to have an “unacceptable” impact on the landscape.
Kilmac Energy proposed to build three turbines on Hill of Finavon, 99.5 metres to blade tip but permission was not determined within the allotted time by local planners.
Reporter Douglas G Hope was sent by Scottish ministers to decide on the firm’s appeal and visited the site on September 18.
Mr Hope said: “I have determined that the landscape and visual impact of the proposal would be unacceptable.
“I am not persuaded that the significant adverse and visual impacts that would result would be outweighed by the contributions that the three turbines would make to the Scottish and UK renewable targets, or by any economic benefits that might accrue from the construction of turbines.”
To the South of Finavon Castle, around six kilometres north-east of Forfar, the largest of the turbines proposed would be 221m, against the summit of the hill at eight metres taller.
The appellant indicates that the proposal could potentially generate enough electricity to supply 3,800 homes, with an estimated carbon saving over its 25-year life of 74,300 tonnes.
Around 20% of the estimated cost was ventured as a gain for the local economy, although Mr Hope said “the extent of this is difficult to determine”.
The developer offers an annual community payment of £25,000 per annum but this cannot be considered under an application.
A spokesman for local objectors said: “In his report the Government inspector has sent out a clear message that this application not only failed to meet the conditions of the local plan but it also failed to meet national policy.
“(The report) sends out a stark message to developers that all unsuitable sites for windfarms will be rejected.”
Mr Hope concurs with a landscape and visual impact assessment (LVIA), which was carried out to gauge the effects on different kinds of landscape character types (LCT) in the area.
He added: “In relation to the Low Moorland Hills LCT, which covers much of the landscape between Forfar and Brechin, although the wind cluster would occupy and directly affect only a small proportion of this LCT, it would be visible across a large proportion of this area and would indirectly affect its character.
“According to the LVIA, the magnitude of change is considered to be high, which would result in the overall level of direct/indirect landscape effects on the Low.
Moorland Hills LCT being high and significant, long term (reversible) and negative. The location of the proposed turbines on a hill top ridge, combined with their height, would result in a development that would dominate the immediately surrounding landscape.”
An environmental survey has indicated that 13 of the 26 properties within a radius of two kilometres would experience significant visual effects.
“On that basis, I find that the significant visual effects experienced by these 13 properties amounts to an unacceptable adverse visual impact,” Mr Hope adds.
Turin Hill Fort, a Scheduled Ancient Monument 2.5km from the nearest turbine, would have a clear view of the proposed development.
The hill is also home to a memorial cairn for a Second World War soldier.
Further afield, the outskirts of Kirriemuir and Brechin would have views on to the turbines, and from the Airlie Monument.
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