Campaigners against a 34-turbine wind farm are outraged a planner has recommended that Highland Council should not object to the development, despite fierce opposition from four community councils and hundreds of people.
In a stinging response, the Ardross-based Save our Straths group said the recommendation to councillors not to challenge the Glenmorie wind farm plan made a mockery of public consultation and meant local opinion “counted for nothing”.
The proposal to establish the wind farm on Kildermorie and Glencalvie Estate has whipped up strong feelings over the past year, with Ardross residents claiming it would lead to their community being completely encircled by 125-high metre turbines.
Its community council set up a Save our Straths website a year ago to campaign against Glenmorie, claiming it was “a wind farm too far”.
The agenda papers for next Tuesday’s north planning applications committee reveal that a total of 330 objections to the wind farm were received by The Scottish Office and Highland Council, with four from community councils in Edderton, Ardross, Ardgay and Invergordon.
The report by a planning official also includes a formal recommendation to the committee not to raise an objection to the proposal, which will be determined by the Scottish Government.
If the council objects, Scottish ministers will have to hold a public local inquiry to consider the development.
John Edmondson, chairman of Save our Straths and secretary of the Ardross Community Council, said: “It is abundantly clear that the views of local residents count for nothing.
“The planning officer appears determined to ride roughshod over the overwhelming consensus amongst residents in the Ardross and surrounding communities that our area is already overwhelmed with wind turbines.
“Highland Council received 121 letters of objection to the Glenmorie wind farm, the vast majority from local residents, and just one in support.
“Yet apparently these are just being brushed aside as being of little or no consequence. This makes a mockery of local consultation.
“We appeal to councillors on the planning committee to listen to the voicee of residents.”
The group believes the planning officer’s report is selective as it omits some important objections from the RSPB, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the John Muir Trust.
Mr Edmondson added: “We are not opposed to green energy in principle. However, the burden of living close to wind turbines should be distributed equitably. Highland Council needs to explain why such a disproportionate number of turbines have been imposed on the Ardross area.
“And surely members of the planning committee should appreciate that it would be fundamentally unreasonable to impose even more turbines on our community.”
The Glenmorie application is for 34 turbines – reduced from 43 – and it is estimated it will have a £46 million economic impact.
Next week’s meeting will be told the Scottish Office has recorded 209 objectors to the wind farm and 32 letters of support. The council has received 121 objections, one letter of support and eight expressing a neutral position.
The report to the committee also makes it clear the area has been a magnet for wind farm developers, with 21 applications for major turbine schemes in a 35k-radius area. The bulk of these are already operational.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland believes turbines would be intrusively visible from Ben Wyvis and Beinn Dearg.
Its chief officer, David Gibson said: “Unless Highland Council objects in the strongest possible terms to this intrusive proposal, it will demonstrate a lack of stewardship and send a strong message to the renewables industry that the Highlands are open house for massive industrial-scale wind farms.”
The planner’s report concludes that Glenmorie will have some adverse impact in landscape, visual and cumulative terms, particularly as seen from higher ground to the south and west. But overall, the benefits of the project are judged to outweigh these concerns.
“The project is seen as being one which has been located, sited and designed such that it will not be significantly detrimental overall, either individually or cumulatively with other developments,” it states.
The wind farm developers have said they hope the committee will follow this recommendation when they vote.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding