March 19, 2015

Highland businessman fears windfarm could hit trade

By Iain Ramage | The Press and Journal | 19 March 2015 |

A tourist operator claims a windfarm developer broke promises made during a public consultation process about the potential impact of six giant turbines on a remote Highland community.

Fearing a loss of trade as a result of the development, holiday home operator Paul Stirling said he has subsequently made more than a dozen approaches to the company but says there was no response.

Six turbines up to 392ft (119.5metres) tall are proposed by wpd Scotland Ltd at Tomich, between Cannich and Loch Ness.

Highland councillors will visit the site this morning and consider the planning application this afternoon.

The developer claims the Beinn Mhor scheme would be shielded by the surrounding hills and plateaus from the village and “preserve the amenity of the area for local residents and visitors”.

Past verbal reassurances from wpd that the scheme would not impact on his home or holiday lets have failed to satisfy Tomich businessman Mr Stirling who received a letter from the firm stating it would provide him with an individually tailored photographic visualisation of the turbines from the perspective of his own property.

He said: “Throughout they’ve made promises, they’ve given assurances such as the roads won’t need to be amended that much, trees won’t have to be removed – and then, when it’s examined more closely, it transpires that they’re wrong.

“We’ve had cast-iron ‘guaranteed’ promises that the scheme will not affect out business or property values or our way of life; that there would be no negative impact.

“We asked for that in writing. They made promises to say they would supply photomontages and they’ve let us down – and they’ve failed to respond to 14 e-mails.”

A January 2013 letter from the developer states: “wpd Scotland takes these concerns very seriously and to help alleviate your concerns we would like to offer an additional visual impact assessment to be carried out for your property”.

The company declined to comment yesterday insisting that “anything to do with consultation is on the website”.

Mr Stirling eventually opted to privately commission a professionally produced photomontage of how the turbines were likely to appear, based on information published by wpd.

The local community has been promised a windfall amounting to £2.6million over the 25-year lifetime of the scheme, if approved by councillors.

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