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Mull Hill windfarm plan rejected

A controversial windfarm proposal that would have been visible from Kinnoull Hill has been refused by Perth and Kinross Council.

Members of the local authority’s development management committee rejected the planned nine wind turbine development, lodged by Force 9 Energy, for land at Mull Hill, Abercairney Estate, Crieff – more than 20 miles from Perth – with the overall tip height being 104 metres.

A map of areas in Perthshire where turbines from the planned windfarm would be seen was produced at the meeting. This showed 24 viewpoint locations, including Kinnoull Hill.

Objectors enlisted the help of renowned Perthshire artist Charles Harris, who held up his painting depicting an area of Perthshire that had been affected by pylons.

The latest plan was part of the previous Abercairney windfarm project, which consisted of three clusters and a total of 24 wind turbines and was refused consent by Scottish ministers.

A community fund would also have been set up which, based on the most recent proposal, could put over £1.1m into the community over the project’s 25-year lifetime.

Force 9 Energy claimed that the each turbine would have a generating capacity of around 2.5 megawatts per year.

Councillor Tom Gray, the convener of the committee, moved to refuse the application, telling councillors that the sight of nine wind turbines near to Gilmerton would “damage” the vision of the area.

He said: “Gilmerton is near the Highlands and this would damage what you see. Your vision would be taken away from the beautiful landscape, and tourists would be saying, ‘There’s a hell of a lot of turbines in Scotland.’ It’s the next generation of tourists that matter.”

Councillor Alan Livingstone seconded the motion and said the plan would not “maintain or improve” the environment.

“The intrusion would do lasting damage to the tourism industry,” he added.

Councillors had heard earlier from Andrew Smith, development manager for the proposal, who spoke on behalf of Force 9 Energy.

He told members that he felt the height of the turbines was “relatively modest” and that the windfarm would bring economic benefits to the area.

However, Mr Livingstone told the committee there are “some prestigious” hotels in the proposed windfarm area that “sustain” the Perthshire tourist industry.
He asked Mr Smith if the plan was “detrimental” would have a negative impact on them.

Mr Smith replied that Crieff Hydro had expressed support for the scheme.

David Parker, of Abercairney Estates, also told members he supported the windfarm plan as he believed this could lead to the regeneration of the estate.

“Perthshire could be the sporting capital of western Europe,” he said. “We’re not overwhelmed by windfarms in the area. I personally find them very attractive.”

The committee also heard from Maureen Beaumont, speaking on behalf of local objectors and head of the opposition Sma’ Glen Protection Group 2, who told councillors that “tall, industrial structures” would erode the experience of being in the proposed area.

The committee heard that Scottish Natural Heritage considered the Mull Hill windfarm to be inappropriate, and Nick Brian, Perth and Kinross Council’s development quality manager, 
recommended refusal of the plan, based partly on the “siting, size of turbines, prominence and visual association” with existing and approved windfarms having a major “adverse” cumulative impact on the existing landscape and visual amenity.

After the committee agreed to refuse the application, Councillor Ian Campbell said it was “quite unusual” for an application to offend so many people.