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Wind plan returns to committee

Highland councillors are being urged to reject a Caithness windfarm plan – despite the possibility of a potentially costly appeal from a spurned developer.

Infinergy hopes to build 24 turbines up to 456ft on the Limekiln Estate at Reay – an area with a high proliferation of towers.

While Scottish Governmnent ministers will make the final decision, planning officials have recommended that councillors raise no objection.

Public objections have ranged from “visual blight” and “loss of wild land” to the “questionable need” for more turbines.

Councillors rejected an initial planning application. Ministers echoed that after a public inquiry. The committee will today consider a revised submission.

Seasoned industry watcher Stuart Young has reminded it that hundreds of constituents oppose the scheme.

He believes the planners’ recommendation is “almost certainly influenced by a desire not to incur the cost of another public inquiry.”

Mr Young claims the Limekiln scheme “is simply not required.”

Industry data shows that the neighbouring Baillie and Strathy North windfarms alone have received £5.1million for switching turbines off to balance the national grid in the six years that compensation has been paid.

Local objector Brenda Herrick, who is fighting a plethora of other schemes planned for the county, said: “They’re all near the NorthCoast500 tourist route, which is in danger of becoming ‘turbine alley’.”

Fiona Milligan of Infinergy dismissed all the objections.

She said: “A material consideration in assessing this case was the report issued following the public inquiry. It clearly stated that in all respects other than the issue of wild land, where further assessment was required, ministers found the scheme would ‘not give rise to any detrimental impacts, either singly or cumulatively, sufficient to outweigh the benefits’.”

She said constraint payments were granted across the entire energy generating sector and that a 2016 report by economic consultants concluded there was no evidence to show windfarms have an adverse effect on tourism.