A poll of residents in a Black Isle community facing Ben Wyvis has shown the vast majority are against a wind farm development because it would “obscure and corrupt” their view of the iconic mountain.
The results of the email and door-to-door surveys around the Culbokie area has prompted Ferintosh Community Council to formally opt to lodge an objection to the proposed five-turbine scheme at Woodlands Farm, Dingwall.
ABO Wind UK is seeking permission for Woodlands Wind Farm and held exhibitions last week as part of its second phase of public consultation.
The company told the Journal this week it is aware of the sensitivities related to Ben Wyvis and that had influenced its whole approach to the design of the wind farm from the outset.
However, the community council has carried out its own surveys which yielded an 88 per cent objection rate.
Ferintosh Community Council chairman, Bruce Morrison, told the Journal: “Our residents have already made up their minds. In polls conducted by email and door-to-door, 169 views have been gathered of which 150 (88 per cent) residents wish to object. With six people undecided, only 13 (eight per cent) residents support this application.
“The developers’ own polls at the first public consultation registered a 90 per cent objection rate. Because the developers dismissed their poll as unrepresentative, part of our poll was door-to-door including areas with young families –. 119 people were polled in this way and they registered an 87 per cent objection rate.
“The near unanimity of view crystallises around the desperate desire to protect the Ben Wyvis range, which is now the only mountain view in our area free of wind turbines. Even residents whose direct view of Ben Wyvis is not impaired are clear in their view that Ben Wyvis must not be desecrated.”
This is not the first time Ferintosh Community Council has been against plans to build a wind development below Ben Wyvis.
Its two-year campaign to stop a 17-turbine Clach Liath Wind Farm being built on the slopes of the mountain ended last year after it emerged the developer had decided not to appeal against its rejection.
The community council said then that the Clach Liath decision sent out a message that the Ben Wyvis massif was a “no-go area” for development.
Mr Morrison said the objection rate was 90 per cent in October and the company had made no changes since then.
“They came in October with a five-turbine proposal and that has not changed a whit between October to January,” he said.
He said since the Clach Liath episode an extension at Fairburn Wind Farm has come forward and there was also a proposal for another group of turbines by Novar, which are to the left and right of Ben Wyvis.
He said the community saw no difference between the Clach Liath and Woodlands proposals, as they were both in the “worst places” and would form an arc of turbines around Ben Wyvis.
Objectors have also taken to Highland Council’s ePlanning website, voicing concerns about visual impact on the landscape.
Jeff and Margaret Faulkner said: “A limited number of wind farms is acceptable when sited appropriately. Blanketing Scotland’s greatest asset with visually intrusive wind turbines is a folly which future generations will regret. The hills comprising the foreground of Ben Wyvis are a key part of the vista presented to tourists travelling north over the Black Isle. It is essential they should not be contaminated by greedy developers riding on the back of political mantra. The minor modifications to the proposal achieve virtually nothing in the overall effect and represent a tactical concession designed to buy planning consent.”
Susan Scott Dickins agreed, saying the developer had made little or no effort to protect the visual amenity of the iconic view of Ben Wyvis from the Black Isle.
Alex Bruce said if the turbines were built a great disservice will have been done to the natural environment, the local population and the local economy.
Clark Crosbie, project manager, ABO Wind UK, said: “From the beginning of looking at this project, we were very much aware of the potential impacts and we very much recognise the sensitivities relating to Ben Wyvis.
“This has significantly influenced our whole approach to the design of the wind farm and we believe that, by reducing the number of turbines from six to five, along with the hub height reduction of two of the turbines, we have used the topography of the existing land form around the site to minimise visual impacts.
“The development site is situated on the north- eastern slopes of Cnoc a’ Bhreacaich. The geography of the site means that the nearby hills of Cnoc Mhàbairn, Cnoc Tigh an Fhirich and Cnoc Ravoch combine with the more mountainous landscape to the north to create a hollow in the landform that is relatively well screened from the wider landscape.
“We now look forward with interest to the outcome of the current consultation led by Highland Council on our planning application.”
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