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Energy firm appeals again to Holyrood over wind farm

An energy firm has appealed to the Scottish Government for permission to build a wind farm east of Inverness.

Nanclach, the company behind the proposal, already has permission for 17 turbines at Tom nan Clach, Glenferness, but it wanted to reduce the number to 13 and increase them in size from 110 metres to 125 metres.

Highland councillors unanimously voted to reject this idea in January after it received 161 public objections. But if the appeal is a success, cash-strapped Highland Council could end up being liable for up to £300,000 costs.

Nanclach’s original proposal was granted by the Scottish Government on appeal in 2013 after councillors rejected it, so it could be approved at Holyrood again.

After the second application was submitted, objections flooded in from nearby residents, the RSPB and the John Muir Trust.

Councillor Jimmy Gray, chairman of the planning committee, said it stood by its position.

“We will continue to oppose the application and would seek a site visit and hearing to support our position,” he said.

“Members had shared concerns about the impact this would have on the view of Lochindorb Castle, which is one of the most important views in the area and we felt this would compromise that.

“It is not normal to get a unanimous decision from this committee and we have unanimously refused this on two occasions.”

When rejecting the application in January, Nairn Provost Laurie Fraser said the council was “damned if they do and damned if they don’t”.

He added: “We are going to have a wind farm here whether we like it or not.”

But Esbjorn Wilmar, managing director of Infinergy, acting on behalf of Nanclach, said the council had not considered the benefits of the revised plans.

“We feel that Highland Council has got this decision wrong,” she said.

“By utilising new design and technology, this redesign not only provides an opportunity to greatly increase the renewable electricity generated on the site by approximately 26 per cent, but reduces the number of turbines and infrastructure required.

“I am still at a loss to understand why, during the debate in the chamber, the councillors did not consider these positive benefits at all, particularly considering this is an already consented site which can be improved enormously through this proposal.”

A spokeswoman for the company added it had not ruled out applying for expenses this time, although it has never done so before.

“We have a couple of weeks before we have to make a decision. We could also apply but decide not to take them if it is accepted,” she said.

“We have never taken costs before but we may this time, given that this is the second appeal we have had to make on this.”

Councillor Gray said should this happen, the council would “vigorously defend its position”.