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Highland Council will not change planning rules for masts

Highland Council will not review its planning policy on wind speed masts despite controversy over the issue.

The authority is set to develop a new set of guidelines for onshore developments as part of the Highland local development plan.

However, the local authority will not reconsider their position on meteorological masts which are used by developers to assess the suitability of an area for a windfarm.

The council’s planning, development and infrastructure committee will this week consider a report detailing the start of consultation on the issue.

But the authority’s principal planner David Cowie said that met masts would not be involved.

He said: “Approval of a met mast does not automatically mean that a windfarm application will follow. If the wind resource is deemed insufficient, or for other reasons, a windfarm application may not be submitted.

“As the details of any windfarm proposal are unlikely to be known at the date of determination of the met mast application, it is not appropriate to speculate on future development at that stage.”

He added that any windfarm application would be subject to “rigorous assessment” before being determined.

It follows controversy last year when councillors voted against a 262ft mast near Urchany and Farley Forest, west of Beauly.

The plan was lodged by ABO Wind and is seen as a precursor to the developer’s proposed 25 turbine windfarm at Allt Crach on the southern flanks of Glen Strathfarrar.

The mast application was subsequently approved by Scottish Government reporter Allison Coard following an appeal.

A public consultation will be carried out on the council’s planning guidance between March and May and a draft version of the proposal is due to be available by August