A wind cooperative has rejected claims that work to construct a turbine is threatening wildcat habitat in the Angus Glens.
Jon Halle, director of Sharenergy Cooperative, said the group would not be proceeding with the project if it thought it would impact on the habitat of an endangered species.
A row has broken out after 49 people in Kilry signed a letter calling for construction work to be halted immediately because “the site is a wildcat haven.”
Resident Helen Douglas said eight people in Kilry reported seeing a wildcat or kitten around the site area before planning permission was previously approved.
She told The Courier: “The planning permission can hardly be revoked at this point, without huge expense, but we’d like to see the development process halted forthwith to allow the cat time to return to breed for next season.
“This doesn’t mean the turbine can’t go up. It does mean the cat should be given peace in the meantime, and a cessation of all the trenching, digging and destruction until July next year. It would mean the archeological site should be left intact and preferably unfenced.”
A survey by Scottish Natural Heritage found no evidence of wildcats using the area before planning permission was approved.
Following research, however, the Angus Glens was identified by SNH this month as one of six “priority areas for Scottish wildcat conservation”.
Miss Douglas added: “The council instructed a wildlife survey long after they should have done, with the result that the wildcat had already been disturbed and taken her kitten with her so there was no evidence of her presence left.
“The hands of SNH were tied – they had to accept that the brief, two-hour walk around the site had come up with nothing.”
The Glen Isla project will be the second wholly cooperatively-owned wind turbine development in Scotland. It follows in the footsteps of the Dingwall Wind Cooperative, which recently concluded a successful share offer.
The Glen Isla wind turbine project is being developed by Alastair and Diane Ramsay, who own Wester Derry Farm at Kilry.
The cooperative will own a 250 kilowatt wind turbine, with members of the public invited to become members of the co-operative buying shares for between £250 and £100,000. It will contribute an estimated £4,500 annually to community funds.
The cooperative is being developed in collaboration with Sharenergy.
“We have carried out the relevant study and SNH has said they are happy with it,” Jon Halle of Sharenergy said. “The landowner has been there for a long time and they have not seen evidence of wildcats on their own land.
“We are a not-for-profit environmental organisation whose primary concern is to reduce the impact of climate change.
“We definitely wouldn’t be proceeding with this project if we thought it would at all possibly impact on the habitat of an endangered species.”
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