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Under siege’ Ochils residents learn of new windfarm plan

The prospect of yet another giant windfarm development in the Ochils has stunned besieged residents.

Developers seeking to profit from the renewable energy boom have repeatedly targeted the area for development.

Application after application has been brought to Perth and Kinross and Clackmannanshire councils.

The hills are already home to a number of sizeable developments as the “industrialisation” of the country’s wild places continues.

They include the 18-turbine Green Knowes, 12-turbine Lochelbank and the expanding Burnfoot Hill site, which straddles the border between the two local authority areas.

A slew of other developments have been thrown out by Scottish Government reporters following appeals, while a number of smaller developments have been given permission.

Now, news of proposals for a further 25 turbines has been broken to communities in and around the Ochil Hills and to surprised local councillors.

The Heads Hill Community Wind Farm Proposal is only in the very earliest stages of development and Cornwall-based developer Community Windpower Limited has stressed that details may change following public consultation.

A site has been identified some five miles northwest of Kinross and 20-25 turbines have been proposed, each rising 150 metres into the sky, from ground to blade tip.

Community Windpower said the proposals would be subject to extensive studies, surveys and consultations before being taken forward, but believes the site could provide enough energy to power more than 60,000 homes.

The plans were an unwelcome surprise when broken to members of Fossoway Community Council.

Secretary Kevin Borthwick said: “Residents do very much feel as though they are under siege from windfarm developers.

“We initially understood that there was supposed to be a limit to the amount of turbines that could be built in the Ochils, but this has long been surpassed and yet more developers want to move in.

“It seems never-ending and it feels as if the area is being flooded with these schemes.”

Community council colleague and chairman Alexander Morrison said: “We have written to Perth and Kinross Council to tell them that we really need to have proper guidelines in order to govern their proliferation.

“Our view, and that of the community, is that this latest large windfarm is against policy for the Ochils as there are already several large windfarms present and others proposed just over the border in Fife, such as Outh Muir and 

“Areas of great landscape value are disappearing and, while we are not against windfarms per se, they need to be coordinated properly so that they do not sprout up everywhere.

“We are seeing more and more turbines and they are getting taller and taller and I am in no doubt that our beautiful countryside will be spoilt by too many.”

The Heads Hill proposals will be raised at further meetings of the community council and in consultation with neighbouring community councils.

Campaigners, including the Friends of the Ochils, have been fighting for the hills to be designated an Area of Great Landscape Value for some time in order to afford them greater protection.

New research undertaken by conservation charity the National Trust for Scotland, however, reveals that almost three-quarters of people feel they have no say over changes to their local landscape.

Its report, entitled The Land We Love”, contained findings gathered through surveys of 700 National Trust for Scotland members, around 1,000 members of the Scottish public, and those who attended a major national conference.

Head of policy, Diarmid Hearns, said: “Our research confirms that people in Scotland value the landscape and want to see it protected. The impact of adverse developments on our lochs and mountains, coastal landscapes and historic settings is a worry, especially locally.