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Plans unveiled to build turbines near historic castle  

Credit:  John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier | 4 January 2013 | www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk ~~

Scottish Water is considering applying for planning permission to build 10 turbines at its water treatment site, three miles south of Wick.

The firm plans to ask Highland Council to give the green light to its plans to erect the turbines at Toftcarl, on the northern outskirts of Thrumster.

It wants to build the development to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy costs of the public water supply at its treatment plant.

The turbines would be 21 metres high and, if approved, would be placed near cliffs which are classed as an international conservation site. The stretch of coast is also classed as a special protection area and is an important bird-nesting site. The proposed wind farm is also close to the Castle of Old Wick which is a site of special scientific interest.

The site is also located 300m from a broch, to the north of the entrance of Hempriggs House, and a chambered cairn, a kilometre east of the development.

Evance Wind, which is acting as agents for Scottish Water, insists the development would not have any visual impact at the cliffs as it would be over a kilometre away.

The agents maintain that given the existing use and previous development of the site, it is unlikely the turbines would have any additional detrimental effect on these features.

In its application, Scottish Water say the site has been deemed ideal for turbine development as the annual average wind speed of 18 mph is higher than the national average for rural locations.

It is claimed the turbines would generate around 157,960 kilowatt hours of electricity a year and represent an annual carbon dioxide saving of 82 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

While agreeing the turbines would be visible from the surrounding landscape, Evance Wind claim they will ‘coalesce’ with the existing industrial development to the extent that their impact is justified by the benefits they will provide.

It also argues that the cumulative impact of the turbines when taken together with other proposed developments in the area is relatively low due to their small stature and colour in comparison to significantly larger-scale machines that are being proposed or currently under construction.

Tannach and District Community Council secretary Elizabeth Hender-son said they were not aware of the planning application as it had not been notified by Scottish Water and said that it is not in a position to comment until it had seen the proposal.

The area is already in line to see major wind turbine development over the next 12 months, which includes RWE building nine large-scale wind turbines at the Burn of Whilk at Yarrows, with construction expected to begin on site in the spring. The application drew widespread criticism in the area, with opponents claiming the development would destroy the Yarrows Trail, described by Thrumster Estate director Islay Macleod as one of the best-preserved and extensive archaeological sites in the country.

Construction is already underway at Camster, where E.on is in the process of building 25 wind turbines, with delivery of the structures to Wick harbour and being transported to the site almost complete.

Highland Council is currently considering the Toftcarl application.

Source:  John O'Groat Journal and Caithness Courier | 4 January 2013 | www.johnogroat-journal.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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