The face of one of Scotland’s finest forest landscapes could be changed by proposals for a giant new windfarm in Perthshire.
Craigvinean and the adjacent Hermitage are home to some of the country’s tallest and best-known trees and attract thousands of visitors each year.
Thirteen giant steel turbines could be erected in their midst, on Forestry Commission Scotland land to the north west of Dunkeld, under proposals by Edinburgh-based PNE Wind UK.
Rising 126 metres, the industrial towers would be more than twice the height of some of the UK’s tallest trees.
The developer has declined to answer questions put to it by The Courier regarding the potential impact on the scenic value of the area.
Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council has described the bid as “most unwelcome” and is increasingly fearful of the impact of industrialisation upon Highland Perthshire.
The development has also sparked an outraged response from national campaign group Scotland Against Spin.
“Nowhere is sacrosanct for subsidy-chasing wind developers,” the group’s Linda Holt told The Courier.
“Private landowners are free to try their luck, but Forestry Commission land which exists for the public good should not be handed over to wind speculators.
“Craigvinean Forest sits beside the Hermitage and is one of Scotland’s iconic forests, in an area that is a huge tourist draw.
“There is something very wrong with a planning system that encourages wind speculators to target such obviously unsuitable areas, to divert scarce local authority planning resources and inflict years of planning blight on the surrounding area.”
Since 2009, FCS has been required by the Scottish Government to work with windfarm developers to “develop the wind power potential of the National Forest Estate”.
PNE Wind UK has been awarded exclusive rights to investigate the feasibility of new onshore wind energy projects within the Tay, Cowal and Trossachs Forest Districts.
It has already applied for planning permission to erect a meteorological mast at Craigvinean to assess wind speeds.
Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) has hopes that the “Tay Forest District Wind Farm – Elrick” plan will create jobs, save the taxpayer money and help to fight climate change.
It said: “Wind energy projects have been developed successfully on the National Forest Estate for a decade and we are driving the best deal for the taxpayer and communities and ensuring the national forest estate generates income for Scotland.
“The Scottish Government has ambitious targets to increase the use of renewable energy in the fight against climate change and help maintain security of electricity supplies across these islands.”
“The projects will also provide a source of income for the Commission that will be reinvested in other worthwhile forestry programmes and grant support for the industry.”
A first public exhibition of the plans was held yesterday in the Birnam Arts Centre.
It continues today, between 10am and 2pm, to enable the community to consider what is proposed.
Members of the community council will be among the interested visitors.
The developer meanwhile said feedback from the consultation would enable it to “refine” plans for “a sensitively designed windfarm”.
For more information, visit www.elrickwindfarm.co.uk.
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