Local residents are incensed that the Scottish Government has given the green light to a 20 turbine wind farm 10 miles south of Inverness, after it was unanimously refused by councillors.
But now the Chief Reporter in Edinburgh has promised to consider a complaint from campaigners who claim the planning appeals system is flawed and favours developers.
RWE Innogy UK’s plans for the wind farm at Glen Kyllachy near Tomatin were blocked by Highland Council’s south area planning committee in August.
Councillors were concerned about the cumulative impact in an area where several other wind farms have either already been built or are pending.
There were objections by Strathnairn and Strathdearn residents, their community councils and the Findhorn District Salmon Fisheries Board. Scottish Natural Heritage also had concerns.
However the developers lodged an appeal against the council’s decision, which a planning Reporter has now upheld, causing local outrage.
Pat Wells, convener of Strathdearn Against Windfarm Developments (SAWD) said they had immediately appealed to Lindsey Nicoll, Chief Reporter in the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, to review the conduct of the Glen Kyllachy appeal.
Their letter claimed the Appeal Decision Notice contained “a number of statements which lead us to believe that the decision to uphold the appeal was a political one made before the review process even started. This view is endorsed by the Reporter’s refusal to permit an accompanied site visit despite representations from The Highland Council, local groups and individuals and the local community councils.”
Mrs Wells said they now had a reply: “The Chief Reporter said she did not have the powers to amend or rescind the decision but if we wished she said she could deal with our letter under their complaints procedure. So that is the route we will go.”
She continued “Industrialisation of the Highland landscape on this massive scale is a shameful legacy of SNP planning policy.”
She said that Glen Kyllachy would merge into the 40 turbine Farr wind farm. “There are nearly 800 wind turbines either operational, under construction, approved or in planning within a 25 mile radius of Farr wind farm. ”
But in his decision document, Timothy Brian, the Reporter said:
“I acknowledge that the area already accommodates a large number of turbines, but the current proposal should be assessed on its own merits, which requires the assessment of impacts, including cumulative impact. I have already found that the landscape and visual impact of the proposal is limited, as result of the topography and visual integration with the existing Farr wind farm.”
He concluded that the cumulative impact of this scheme would not be as pronounced as the objectors feared.
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