A controversial community wind turbine project that was refused by Perth and Kinross councillors has been referred back to the Scottish Government.
An appeal against the refusal of the application for three turbines at Tillyrie Hill, near Milnathort, has been lodged with the Scottish ministers through the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals.
The proposal has a chequered history with applications for five turbines refused in 2005, 2006 and at appeal.
A new submission for the Milnathort Community Cluster reduced the turbines in number and height and moved the siting to reduce visual impact.
Even with the changes, the turbines would be visible from up to nine miles away, the council’s development management committee heard when they considered the matter in July.
Each of the three proposed turbines would have risen to 74 metres and would have generated enough wattage to power the equivalent of 1,300 homes.
The project was being developed through a partnership between the Milnathort Future Trust (MFT), Lomond Energy and the Thomson family, who own the site.
At the meeting, MFT director David Sands urged the councillors to back the proposal, saying it was “a real opportunity for the local community to benefit from a windfarm development”.
If the development went ahead, he said, the community would receive tens of thousands of pounds per year.
Despite the concessions over the number of turbines and the siting, the council’s development management committee rejected the plan.
The referral back to the Scottish Government is a matter of concern locally, according to Liz Smith, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife.
“The fact that the application is to be decided by SNP Scottish ministers will concern many local residents who are opposed to the wind turbines,” she said.
“Windfarm proposals are extremely controversial and in many cases communities are tired of being forced to fight applications again and again.
“The views and wishes of people in Kinross-shire must come first.
“This windfarm application represents yet another in a long line of windfarm applications being faced by Perth and Kinross Council, which is seriously impacting on the planning department.
“Communities the length and breadth of Scotland feel their wishes are being overlooked by the SNP Scottish Government, who are forcing local communities to take windfarms against the wishes of these communities.
“Local democracy is all about local councils and locally-elected councillors taking decisions close to those communities which will be impacted.
“All over the country, groups have been established to fight these developments, showing the acute concern felt by so many people.
“Sadly, with the SNP Scottish Government and developers on one side, many communities feel the planning process has become a David and Goliath battle, with all the odds stacked against rural, small communities.”
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