Highland councillors will consider a plan to add 10 new turbines to an existing wind farm whose operators have already been paid more than £7.5m to turn it off.
Campaigners say that this year alone, Falck Renewables have been given £2.8m for the Millennium wind farm in the hills to the west of the Great Glen, not to generate electricity.
But the operators and the industry argue every other part of the energy industry is also compensated in the same way.
The Millennium wind farm consists of 26 turbines. The proposed 10 new ‘Millennium South’ turbines would be larger at 433ft m to blade tip.
The final decision will be taken by Scottish ministers but Highland Council’s Head of Planning and Building Standards, Ken McCorquodale, has advised , members of the South Area planning applications committee, to “Raise No Objection ” when they meet on December 23.
Stuart Young, a long standing anti-wind farm campaigners said “Just since Thursday Falck have received another £50,000 in constraint payments for Millennium, on top of the £7.5m. It is ridiculous that Highland Council planners are recommending approval when so much money is being spent and the power is not needed.”
But Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said generators paid hundreds of millions of pounds in fees each year to connect to the electricity network.
“It is therefore only right they are compensated when National Grid can’t meet its contractual obligation to transport power from where it is being generated to where it is being consumed.
He said constraint payments were being made to coal, oil, gas and nuclear generators, before the first wind turbine was connected to the grid in the UK.
“The payments are not driven by changes in power output from wind farms due to wind conditions – they are due to bottlenecks on the wires that make up the electricity grid due to inadequate investment, faults or outages for maintenance.”
Meanwhile he Scottish Government has been accused of attaching too great a priority to wind energy as new figures show almost 1,400 applications to install turbines have been made in the last 18 months, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives.
Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said the figures show “the stream of wind farm applications to Scotland’s rural councils shows no sign of easing”.
He claimed: “The SNP’s ludicrous targets and constant rhetoric on wind energy has given these companies the green light to submit application after application. It puts a massive strain on council planning departments, which in turn causes anxiety to those in communities whose surroundings would be severely impaired.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding