Claims are being made that the planning system is broken after the go-ahead was given on appeal by a Scottish reporter to ‘re-power’ a controversial wind farm near historic Lochindorb.
Nanclach Limited was granted consent by the Scottish Government for its revised plans for 13 turbines at Tom nan Clach wind farm.
It means there will be four fewer turbines than first planned but they will be 125 metres in height – 15 metres taller than originally proposed.
The application had been rejected by Highland Council in the summer because of the visual impact the turbines would have on the surrounding area including Lochindorb, one-time home of the infamous Wolf of Badenoch. The site lies within the Drynachan, Lochindorb and Dava Moor Special Landscape Area.
There had been 161 objections to the revised scheme including from community councils in Carrbridge and Dulnain Bridge.
Local Highland councillor Bill Lobban (SNP) said: “This decision is yet another insult to democracy. Quite simply the planning process in Scotland is broken.
“Allowing decisions to be taken by a single government employee rides roughshod over the democratic process and it is now high time that the Scottish Government realised that fact and made drastic changes to the whole system.
“There is no point bleating on and on about local democracy when the views of local people and their democratically elected representatives are ignored time and time again.”
The first Tom nan Clach Wind Farm was approved in 2013 and comprised 17 turbines but with a grid connection date not before 2018.
Esbjorn Wilmar, managing director of Infinergy, commented: “We started construction of the wind farm’s access tracks this summer and we are thrilled that it will be the better project that gets to be built on this fantastic site for wind energy.”
The Scottish Government said it is committed to ensuring the planning system “works for everyone”.
Minister for Local Government and Housing Kevin Stewart said: “We recently welcomed the independent review of the Scottish planning system and are currently taking forward a collaborative programme of work to determine the scope of further planning reform in advance of a Planning Bill.”
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