Council planners are recommending that controversial plans for a nine turbine wind farm in Perthshire should be refused – because of its impact on the Highland Fault, the distinctive geographical feature which marks the divide the Highland and Lowlands of Scotland.
Force 9 Energy and local landowner, the Abercairny Estate, have lodged a joint application to develop the 22.5 megawatt wind farm on 855 hectares of heather moorland at Mull Hill, two and half miles North east of Crieff.
The turbines would have a maximum height of 104 metres (341ft) and generate enough electricity to power more than 11,300 homes.
The application has attracted 119 letters of support and 283 letters of objection, including representations from the Braco and Greenloaning, East Strathearn, Methven and District, and Muthill and Tullibardine community councils.
Scottish Natural Heritage has also objected to the scheme, claiming it would be sited in a strategically important location and “significantly detract” from the distinctive transitional landscape created by the area’s part of the Highland Boundary Fault line.
Members of Perth and Kinross Council’s development management committee are being urged to reject the green energy scheme at their meeting next Wednesday.
Nick Brian, the council’s Development Quality Manager, states in a report to the committee that the proposed wind farm scheme would have a “major adverse impact” on the existing landscape character and visual amenity of the area.
He says: “The council’s Landscape Officer’s view is that the applicant has failed to recognise the importance of the Highland Boundary Fault which marks the stark transition from Lowland and Highland landscape. This geological feature is recognised as a ‘landmark landscape feature’ by the council and SNH.
“In SNH’s objection to the proposal, they confirm that the distinction between the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland features strongly in Scottish cultural identity. In their opinion, the dramatic and pronounced linear ridge formed by this part of the Highland boundary fault line contributes to the distinctiveness of Scotland’s landscape because it marks a clear physical expression of the transition between the lowland landscapes to the south and the upland landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to the north.”
He continues: “It is clear that the primary intention of both the Development Plan and national policies is to direct wind farm developments to sites where they will not have a significant adverse impact on landscape character or the visual amenity of an area. It is considered that there would be significant landscape harm arising from the siting of this proposal.”
Mr Brian adds: “Whilst current Government Guidance incorporates a broad commitment to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources as a vital part of the response to climate change, in this instance it is considered that the energy contribution of the nine turbines would not outweigh significant adverse effects on local environmental quality.”
The developers state: “Alongside the economic benefits that the project would bring to the region, the proposal would also help the Scottish Government to meet its renewable obligations to cut its dependence on fossil fuels, saving approximately 25,425 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, compared with conventional fossil fuel sources.
“The proposal is part of a comprehensive range of measures by the Abercairny Estate that would help fund other environmental and conservation projects, including work to revitalise habitat for wild game and other wildlife, and refurbishments to buildings on the estate to help promote local tourism.”
An application by Force 9 Energy and Abercairny Estate for a 24 turbine scheme in the area, at the mouth of the Sma’ Glen, was rejected following a public inquiry in 2005.
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