Windfarm opponents are celebrating the Scottish Government’s damning dismissal of an appeal against refusal of a £12 million, nine-turbine scheme in the Angus glens.
Against the conditional approval recommendation of Angus officials, councillors last August blocked plans for the Carrach site near Kingoldrum, close to the Angus/ Perthshire border and in the foothills of the Grampians.
A reporter has now said that the turbines would be an “unwelcome intrusion” on the “attractive, shapely hills” in the Angus landscape for only a modest renewable energy gain.
The proposal was one of two windfarm schemes to be vetoed by the same meeting of Angus development standards committee, despite hopes by the Carrach project partners that smaller turbines – 800kW and 84 metres to tip – and the prospect of a greater-than-average community benefit share might see their plan approved.
They also claimed strong local support for the project but that was not reflected in comments during a discussion of the proposal, in which one councillor voiced fears over the vale of Strathmore becoming the “valley of death, blighted on the north and south by windfarms.”
Reporter Richard Hickman made two visits to the site, centred on Welton and Kinclune Hills.
In newly issued appeal findings he states: “The Carrach wind farm is put forward on the basis that it would provide a contribution of 7.2MW of generating capacity towards the various renewable energy objectives.
“In addition, it would make a financial contribution to the local economy during construction and to the ongoing diversification, operation and improvement of the two farms where it would be located, while having minimal impacts on other land uses, including farming and recreation, and on natural, cultural, and built heritage.
“I agree with the council that the group of hills in the vicinity of the appeal site form a dramatic transition between the highland summits and plateaux to the north and the broad valley lowland to the south.
“These are attractive, shapely hills, easily seen from the lower ground to the east, south, and west, and particularly dramatic when viewed from the minor road along the deeply incised den of the Quharity Burn to the north.
“Most of the turbines would be located on the upper slopes of the Carrach and Kinclune Hill with the tip height of most of them exceeding the summit heights of these hills, and also of Mile Hill, a short way to the north, which is the highest point in the hill group. They would thus form a skyline feature in many of the views.”
Mr Hickman said the turbines would dominate the hills in their vicinity and would be a conspicuous and intrusive feature in several sensitive views readily available to the general public.
From nearby roads, he said, they would be a “locally very unwelcome presence”.
He added: “Despite the design of the turbine layout being reasonably compact and well balanced, I agree with those opposing the windfarm that it would look out of scale and out of place in this setting, forming an unwelcome intrusion in a very attractive landscape.”
“On balance, taking account of the very attractive rural landscape character of this area and the serious visual intrusion that would be obvious in the locality on a daily basis for a very long period, I consider that the modest contribution that would be made to renewable energy targets by this relatively small windfarm, together with the temporary benefit to the local economy during construction, and the continuing income to the two farm businesses during the operational period are insufficient to outweigh the harm resulting from landscape impact, and hence to do not justify a departure from the planning policies.”
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