Highland councillors have rejected plans for a 200ft wind farm mast after 132 residents objected to the scheme.
The slim line structure for Airvolution Energy Ltd would have captured wind speeds for a two-year period in Carr Ban Woods one-and-a-half miles from Inverarnie, by Farr.
But it was turned down by members of the south area planning applications committee on Tuesday after Inverness South Independent councillor Jim Crawford argued “it would be alien on the lovely landscape”.
Nicola Drummond, planning officer, told the committee an application for seven wind farms, plus two further applications for two turbines, were currently pending consideration in the area around the proposed mast. And another mast was granted consent and is on site near that spot.
Inverness Central councillor Donnie Kerr established that the wind farm mast that had been proposed for Carr Ban Woods was separate to the pending seven turbine scheme and would have been collecting information for a separate wind farm scheme, yet to be announced.
He asked Ms Drummond: “So this may well be a precursor for yet another wind farm application just outside this one – is that what you’re saying?”
“It may well be”, she replied.
Councillor Crawford said: “I have been attending meetings in this area for the last eight years and the majority of the people up there have written in objecting to this on the grounds that it is going to be an alien object on a lovely landscape.”
Mr Crawford said maps proved 69 houses lay within two kilometres of the proposed mast site. And he said trees “screening” the mast from view could be felled at any time.
He said there was another mast just a couple of hundred yards along the road, adding: “I would like to move that we refuse this on the grounds of landscape and that it is against policy 67 of the Highland Wide Local Development Plan.”
Inverness South councillor Thomas Prag, had “a lot of sympathy for what Mr Crawford said”.
But he did not think that the council could turn the scheme down because “we really have to have very strong reasons”.
He added: “There is certainly quite a lot of [wind] information being gathered in that area already and somehow we are not really allowed to take that into consideration so that’s really frustrating.”
He said he met somebody at the weekend from a company down south that no longer used masts because they had a laser method which was just a little box that sits on the ground.
Councillor Prag added: “I know it’s not relevant to this application but there may be another way. And I know I’ve said this before but we really do have to have strong reasons to turn these down. They are temporary and I don’t know what the strong reasons are in this case about the mast itself. While I have a lot of sympathy I think we are not able to turn this down.”
If the council objects to a scheme such as this on shallow grounds then the applicant can appeal the decision and that could end up being a costly process for the tax payer.
But Aird and Loch Ness councillor Margaret Davidson was adamant that the scheme had strong reasons for being turned down.
“Well I’m going to support Councillor Crawford and I’m going to move for a refusal on the grounds of the unacceptable height of this,” she said.
“This is not a hilly area and it will be highly visible – and there will be a cumulative visual impact with other man-made structures in the landscape. Frankly I’m losing the plot over there with the number of applications coming in for individual turbines of this sort of anemometer masts and the rest.”
Committe chairman Jimmy Gray moved the amendment that planning permission be granted.
Five members voted in his favour but 10 members supported the motion that the mast scheme be turned down.
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