Highland councillors are being steered by their officials to “raise no objection” to a Caithness wind farm – despite a 500-plus signature petition against the scheme.
That number objected to the latest Caithness proposal by Eon for the Golticlay site near Lybster.
Members of the north planning committee will be consulted on Tuesday as part of a process that will ultimately be decided by Scottish Government ministers due to the scale of the scheme.
“Up to 19” turbines, each up to 427ft (130m) tall, are planned for a site a mile northeast of Bulreanrob.
Carrie Window, a member of the Rumster Anti Windfarm Group, is horrified at the officers’ recommendation.
“I’m not averse to turbines,” she said. “I understand that we have to look elsewhere for an energy supply but Golticlay is in the middle of a community – and they’re not listening to the people.
“The site is surrounding on three sides by a community, and the community has spoken. We don’t want it there.
“Nearby, they’re planning to extend the Camster Windfarm, which is fine because it’s not surrounding by homes.
‘We’re being covered by turbines in this county but get no direct benefit. It’s all in bank accounts and tucked away. Won’t see any community benefit.”
A spokeswoman for Eon said: “A community fund would start once the windfarm is built and operational. At this stage, our Golticlay development is still in the planning process.”
Online, Eon promises a community benefit fund for local groups and projects “worth up to £5,000 a year for each MW of renewable energy we install.”
The officers’ report to councillors concedes that there is potential for “significant conflict” with the council’s renewable energy policy on account of the potential impact on protected bird species, peatland habitats and cumulative visual impact on the landscape due to existing and consented windfarms in the area. There is a tentatively listed World Heritage Site application for the local Flow Country.
And the proposed development would be within 12 miles of seven “special areas of conservation,” three “special protection areas,” and nine “sites of special scientific interest.”
The council has received 260 formal letters of objection and none in support of the planning application.
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