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Campaigners ‘totally confident’ Macritch Hill windfarm won’t get off the ground

The largest windfarm ever proposed for Angus is hanging in the balance because the sums may not add up, it has emerged.

The £75 million Macritch Hill development, which would see 18 turbines stretch between Glen Prosen and Glen Isla near Kirriemuir, was to save Scottish Water one-third of its annual energy costs.

A Scottish Government reporter is to decide on whether the national-scale project will get the go-ahead next year.

But campaigners say the utilities giant would have to justify the cost “to every customer in Scotland” because UK subsidies may not be available for the 59MW windfarm.

In June, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said the UK Government will block new onshore windfarms from accessing the main renewables subsidy scheme from April.

Scottish Water, owner of the Backwater Reservoir site, has now entered into a viability study with developer Eneco, which has in turn applied to the Government for more time before the reporter makes their decision.

Scottish Water’s general manager for energy, Chris Toop, said: “Eneco are still considering the financial viability of the scheme and are aware of the statement made by Amber Rudd recently.

“It is ultimately Eneco’s decision whether to continue with the scheme but they have not indicated when they will be in a position to determine this yet.

“I will continue to pursue this with them as I appreciate clarification is important for all concerned with the scheme.”

The local statutory consultee, Angus Council, has withdrawn its objection over noise but maintains objections over landscape and visual issues.

A number of others have indicated concerns over landscape and wild land impact.

A spokesman for Angus Communities Windfarm Action Group said: “This is potentially the biggest capital scheme in Angus – £75m to £80m – which if approved would be a white elephant vanity scheme for Scottish Water.

“No matter if it does go to public inquiry next year, the community is totally confident with the support of Angus Council, Perth and Kinross Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Cairngorms National Park, the application will be refused on planning grounds.”

The public local inquiry could take up to a year for a recommendation to be made on the status of the project, after which Scottish Ministers will make a final decision.

An Eneco spokesman said: “Eneco continues to be fully committed to the project which is based on Scottish Water’s land near Kirriemuir.

“If the project is consented it will help Scottish Water reduce their energy costs as well as supporting the Scottish Government’s renewable targets.”