Islanders have gone to war after a landowner began work on an “illegal” road for a controversial wind turbine.
Neil Smith sparked fury after using landing barges to bring in construction equipment at Gallanach beach on the Hebridean island of Coll.
Residents watched in horror as rock pecker machines were driven across the pristine white sand and began channelling a route through the cliff face.
Mr Smith, director of Gallanach Green Generation Limited, has permission for a single 252ft turbine. But work on the plan stalled last summer when he lost an appeal to bring in equipment along the island’s single track road. Locals believe he is now carving an alternative route.
Argyll and Bute Council planning officers visited Mr Smith on Thursday and ordered him to stop, as no planning permission has been granted. But on Friday residents complained that they could hear the rock peckers in action late into the night.
The chairman of the council’s Oban, Lorn and the Isles Area Committee, councillor Roddy McCuish, said yesterday: “I am absolutely devastated at the vandalism that is taking place on the Isle of Coll at the moment. This is environmental vandalism and it can’t continue.
“Two senior planners went out to the site on Thursday and I assumed the work would stop but I have word back from Coll that work is continuing at some pace.”
Fellow councillor Neil MacIntyre said: “We have told him not to do any more work, there is no planning permission. It’s a disgrace, to destroy a beautiful area, it’s very sad.”
More than 100 of the island’s 137 inhabitants signed a petition against the 750kw wind turbine.
Mr Smith secured planning permission, but with a condition requiring a plan, agreed by the council, before the island road could be used to transport materials. Resident Pat Graham said: “It’s an absolute travesty.
“There is no Crown permission to land these barges and bring all the stuff off.
“There is no planning permission to put a track in from the beach to the turbine site, which is 500 metres from Gallanach beach.
“He has brought in a rock pecker and it is pecking away at the rocks. It’s his land but he hasn’t got permission.”
Mr Smith yesterday refused to comment.
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