Consultants are being drafted in to assess the impact of three giant windfarms proposed for parts of rural Perthshire.
Perth and Kinross Council has issued a call for reinforcements to carry out a study of major turbine developments in the Highlands, Strathmore and Glens area of the region.
The proposals amount to an extra 66 turbines and have already sparked widespread opposition from residents and conservationists.
Now the local authority has announced its intention to carry out an extensive survey to determine exactly how the trio of projects could affect their surroundings.
The council has issued a contract, calling for professionals to pour over the developers’ weighty environmental statements, as well as other submitted paperwork, and look at the cumulative impact of the three proposals.
The planned developments which will be scrutinised are the 17-turbine Dulater Hill wind park near Butterstone, the Crossburns project beside Aberfeldy (25 masts) and the Talladh a Beithe scheme near Rannoch which is expected to have 24 turbines.
It is the first time that the local authority has called in outside help to determine windfarm applications in this way.
A council spokeswoman said: “We currently have three significant wind farm applications in the Perth and Kinross Council area, each of which is in excess of the 50MW threshold which requires referral to the Scottish Government for a determination.
“To ensure that the council is able to meet its full obligations as a consultee in these applications, and meet the statutory timescales for providing our response, we are tendering for an external consultant to carry out an independent assessment of each wind farm application.
“This work will then help inform reports to the Development Management Committee for each application.”
Costs for the study have yet to be finalised.
According to the wording of the contract notice, consultants could also be called in to give evidence at any subsequent public local inquiry.
Residents across the region have mounted a bid to block the developments.
They believe the masts planned for Dulater will impact on a highly sensitive site near to the Loch of Lowes nature reserve, as well as the Forest of Clunie.
Residents at Rannoch have also launched their own Keep Rannoch Wild campaign, calling for the Talladh a Beith plan to be rejected.
The John Muir Trust has also raised grave concerns about the Crossburns development, claiming it could blight the Rob Roy Way, one of Scotland’s best loved trails.
With two major windfarms already spread across the Highland Perthshire landscape – Griffin and Calliachar – there are already 82 installed turbines visible from Schiehallion, Perthshire’s most prominent mountain.
If Crossburns and other applications in the pipeline were to be approved the number of turbines in the part of Highland Perthshire would rise to 136.
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