A rural community which has won its fight against plans for an unwelcome wind turbine has been left counting the emotional and financial costs of the campaign which has left them stressed, out-of-pocket and wary of future plans.
This week the residents of Culbo Road near Culbokie enjoyed a victory when Dawn Energy LLP withdrew its second application to build a turbine at Upper Badrain near Culbokie. The firm has also withdrawn its bid for a similar structure at nearby Dunvournie.
However, neighbours fear they have “won the battle, but not the war” and say they would not be surprised if future plans were not lodged for a wind development on the farmland close to their homes.
Last year the 68 households on Culbo Road rallied together to “fight tooth and nail” against a plan to build a 76-metre turbine on agricultural land at Upper Badrain Farm.
Within days the neighbours held meetings, erected banners, launched a petition, wrote a flurry of objection letters, contacted local politicians and set up a Facebook page.
They were concerned about the impact on their health, the landscape and that the turbine might lead to more springing up op on the same patch of land.
The proposal, which attracted 121 public comments, was withdrawn and a new application for a scaled-down 45-metre turbine on the same site was lodged.
The same developer’s previous proposal for a 76-metre turbine at Dunvournie Farm was also replaced with an application for a 44.5 metre-high structure.
The Culbo Road residents were undaunted and launched a fresh campaign. The second application attracted more than 100 representations, most of them objections, and the Dunvournie plan attracted 50.
This week the residents received official notification from Highland Council’s planning department that both turbine applications had been withdrawn.
The Journal contacted Wasseem Hussein of Dawn Energy to ask why the applications had been withdrawn and if any more would be lodged, but he failed to reply before we went to press.
The news was warmly welcomed in the community, but also prompted neighbours to reflect on the high cost of their efforts to ensure the Upper Badrain turbine did not go ahead.
Resident Steve Horsfall told the Journal: “Well, we said we would fight this tooth and nail and it really feels like we have done.
“Mentally, I feel I have been put through a big ordeal and a lot of people have had to sacrifice time, energy, and money to fight this – a large group of us commissioned a report from a man who has had success in fighting wind turbine developments and each donated £50 to the cause.”
Mr Horsfall said he had had many sleepless nights over the issue and believed the application came undone over the need to pay compensation to a resident who lived close to the turbine site.
He added he was concerned there may be further wind turbine plans for the field.
“We have won a small victory. We may have won the battle, but not the war. I have taken my banner down and rolled it up, but I may have to put it up again,” he said.
Neighbour Angus Scott Dickins agreed.
“Whilst it is great news that the wind turbine applications have been withdrawn, we are aware that it is Highland Council policy to proactively encourage similar developments on the north side of the Black Isle,” he said.
He said he did not want the Culbo Road residents to appear as selfish “Nimbys” as many were sympathetic to renewable energy schemes if they were sustainable, but they did not feel the council considered whether this wind turbine development met its planning requirement to provide optimised levels of energy.
“Local residents are not receiving a logical justification from their local councillors as to why they should suffer/lose amenity for each wind turbine – how many ampere/hours of power should each turbine produce per year to justify loss of amenity in the Upper Badrain and other local rural areas?” he asked.
Ferintosh Community Council had also objected to both applications.
Its chairman Bruce Morrison said: “If these applications have been withdrawn because of the very strong feelings against them locally, then we are pleased with that outcome.”
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