Objectors fearing the presence of more turbines in Highland Perthshire have welcomed a decision by the Scottish Government to reject a proposal for a controversial wind farm.
Plans for Crossburns wind farm will now not go ahead after the planning reporter refused an application which could have seen 25 turbines with a maximum height of 115 metres and a total output of 75MW built on a site near Amulree.
The developers, described on the supporting documentation as Crossburns Wind Farm Ltd, said if the plans had gone ahead, they expected it to generate enough electricity for 54,000 homes.
The bid was originally lodged with Perth and Kinross Council back in 2014, and was rejected by the local authority planning officers in September 2015.
PKC received official objections to Crossburns from Scottish Natural Heritage, SEPA, the John Muir Trust, the RSPB, Glen Quaich Estate and the Tayside Raptor Study Group.
A number of community councils were also opposed to the mooted scheme – including Aberfeldy, Dull and Weem, Glenlyon and Loch Tay, and Dunkeld and Birnam – which was the subject of a public enquiry.
The government has since carried out a number of site inspections over the past year, before compiling the report in June this year recommending the proposals be rejected once again.
Catherine Cacace, head of energy consents and the Scottish Government, said: “The development would make a meaningful contribution towards meeting Scotland’s renewable energy targets. Nevertheless, the landscape effects of the proposal cannot be adequately controlled by planning conditions and are significant to an extent that would outweigh the renewable energy and climate change benefits which would occur.
“National planning policy does not support the scheme because its adverse landscape effects would outweigh the benefits.
“The proposal does not comply with the development plan as the location, dominance and scale of the proposal would have unacceptable landscape and visual impacts.
“There would be adverse impacts in relation to schedule nine of the Electricity Act 1989 as natural beauty would not be preserved. This impact is not outweighed by the benefits of the proposal.”
Ms Cacace continued: “The reporters recommend that consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 should be refused.
“Scottish Ministers agree with the reporters’ findings, reasoning and conclusions and adopt them for the purposes of their own decision.”
News of the refusal has been welcomed by the John Muir Trust, based in nearby Pitlochry, who initially objected to the proposals.
John Low, the trust’s policy officer attended a number of the site visits and the local public enquiry.
He said: “This is the right decision by the Scottish Government. Highland Perthshire is the scenic heart of Scotland and already makes a major contribution to renewable energy targets, through its wind farms and hydro schemes.
“Local communities across Highland Perthshire were rightly concerned that this wind farm could have inflicted serious damage not just to the ecology and landscape of the area, but also to local businesses which rely on year-round tourism.
“The application has consumed a lot of time and money. Hopefully this decision will convince energy companies to seek more suitable locations in the future before they submit speculative applications.”
Iomhair Fletcher, chairman of Dull and Weem Community Council, said: “We are absolutely welcoming the news, it was getting to the ridiculous stage. We are very pleased and relieved it has been stopped.
“I think our area has done its bit already, we have two wind farms going at Griffin and Calliacher. The landscape has already been industrialised, but people come to Perthshire for its beauty. From every mountain around here you can see wind turbines from it. I think everybody is pleased with the outcome here.”
Victor Clements from Aberfeldy Community Council added: “As far as Aberfeldy was concerned the decision was never unanimous but on balance they [Scottish Government] did the right thing, but if it had gone the other way we would have accepted the result.”
A spokesperson from Engie, the firm representing the company behind the Crossburns proposals, declined to comment on the application outcome.