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Strathpeffer group slams turbine proposal as ‘inappropriate’

Plans to build a 70-metre turbine on a Ross-shire farm has divided opinion – with some objectors claiming it will scar the landscape while supporters welcome the “courageous initiative”.

An application for permission to establish the 500kw turbine at Beallach Farm, Jamestown, near Strathpeffer, has whipped up plenty of public comment since being lodged.

Many taking to Highland Council’s ePlanning website were objectors who expressed strong misgivings about the proposal by Ogden Renewable Energy, claiming it is the wrong location for such a large structure.

One of the objectors is the Earl of Cromartie of Castle Leod, on the outskirts of Strathpeffer, who fears the turbine is too big for the landscape.

However, ten of those who wrote in with comments fully back the application, claiming it should be encouraged.

A supporting heritage statement by AAH Planning Consultants says the farm is a smallholding with a single house and three paddocks for grazing sheep.

The turbine would be positioned to the north-east of the home and farm buildings on rising land.

The statement concludes: “…it is considered that the proposed turbine can be accommodated within the landscape without resulting in a significant adverse impact on the cultural heritage of the area.”

Strathpeffer Community Council is objecting on the grounds of inappropriate siting, claiming the turbine’s scale in the setting of the Cat’s Back hill is out of place and dominant. As far as the community council is concerned the turbine will be clearly visible from the Kinellan area, Ord Wood, the Heights and the top of the village – all areas of important amenity,” its letter of objection states.

A long and detailed objection has been submitted by Ceiran Baldwin, who said: “The impact of this development, if permitted, would affect a great many people, from those living close by to those visiting the area and tourists simply passing from west to east.

“It would be hard to undertake any activity in this area without the turbine being a prominent feature, having a dominant effect on the landscape and adversely affecting people’s enjoyment and appreciation of their surroundings.

“I believe strongly that the full impact of the development is not accurately reflected in the application, and even it were it would be shown to fail to accord with the Highland-wide local development plan. On this basis, I very much hope the proposed turbine will be refused.”

Another objector, Charles Fitzherbert, wrote to ePlanning claiming the turbine would be significantly intrusive from many angles.

Major John Whitelaw expressed concern about several aspects of the proposal, including access to the site during construction, which he said would cause major traffic problems and disturbance.

Another objector, Hamish Polson, said: “I wish to object to this project on the grounds that this wind turbine is far too large a scale for the location. It lies close to the very popular walk leading from Jamestown to the Cat’s Back and beyond, and will detract from the amenity of the village of Strathpeffer and surrounding area.”

Bob Robertson said the wind turbine would be a scar on the layout of the township and Pamela Bogan described it as a “ridiculously large-scale turbine”.

The Earl of Cromartie’s objection reads: “Too large a scale turbine on too small a scale landscape, with the added problems of an access road near Jamestown, which is a quiet residential community.

“The popularity of the Cat’s Back (which includes Knockfarrel and Cnoc Mor) as a very popular local walk should not be spoilt by such an industrial scale turbine.

“The nearby community of Strathpeffer is a Conservation Village and relies heavily on tourism as its main source of income, and I believe the sheer scale of this turbine could adversely affect this vital trade.”

But a number of people have come out in support of the plan. Carolyn Murphy said the project could only be commended for providing an environmentally friendly way of producing energy, while John Urquhart said the small-scale development, sited within a working landscape and close to centres of population, should be encouraged.

Ken Urquhart said he could see more than 70 wind turbines from his kitchen window and stressed the turbine would quickly become part of the landscape.

Craig Mahon, a resident in the area for 40 years before leaving to find work, expressed his wholehearted support for turbine. “I welcome courageous initiatives like this proposal which will contribute to the local economy,” he said.

The ePlanning system can be accessed through Highland Council’s website www.highland.gov.uk