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Turbine plans can go ahead; Government sides with developers

The Scottish Government has ruled another 11 turbines can be built near Bridge of Cally after the company behind the scheme successfully appealed Perth and Kinross Council’s decision to deny planning permission last year.

ABO Wind UK’s proposed Green Burn Wind Farm can now be built roughly three-quarters of a mile west of the existing Drumderg Wind Farm.

A reporter working for the government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) decided its visual impact would only be “experienced” by locals, visitors and passers-by “intermittently and from a limited area”.

Council planners recommended the company’s initial application be refused last year. This came after they received objections from the likes of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and the John Muir Trust.

Planners concluded the development would have “significant and unacceptable visual impacts, including cumulative landscape impacts on residential, recreational and tourist receptors”.

However the government reporter, Andrew Sikes, said in his appeal decision notice published this week he felt the CNPA, who had said in its objection the near-dozen 115 metre high turbines would have a “significant adverse effect” on the park’s Special Landscape Qualities (SLQs), had “overstated” its case in arguing the scheme should be refused.

Mr Sikes instead sided with the opinion of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the public body responsible for the country’s natural heritage.

He said SNH had noted the wind farm would “add to the overall extent of wind farm development” but “would not significantly add to the cumulative adverse effects arising from the baseline of the Drumderg, Tullymurdoch and Welton of Creuchies [wind farm] developments”.

He summed up: “The appeal site is located in a landscape that is recognised as having the capacity to accommodate a wind farm development of the number, height and size of turbines proposed.

“Design revisions to the appeal proposals have resulted in an improved development that would reduce its prominence on the skyline and its relationship with the adjacent Drumderg Wind Farm.

“Overall, I agree with the appellant’s assessment, and that of SNH, regarding the predicted impacts of the proposed development, including its cumulative impacts, on landscape character and visual amenity.

“Although from some sections of the A93 and the Cateran Trail within Glenshee there would be significant adverse effects on the experience of the SLQs of the National Park, I also agree with the conclusions of SNH, that these effects would be experienced intermittently and from a limited area.”

A council spokesperson said: “We note the decision of the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeal’s Division.”

Clark Crosbie, head of development at ABO Wind UK, said: “After almost two and a half years in the planning process, we are extremely pleased to receive this news. From the outset, we were confident this project met all of the necessary planning and environmental standards.

“With onshore wind operating today in a much more challenging, subsidy free environment, our efforts can now turn to delivering the project, so that it can start to realise its many and varied benefits.”

Mr Crosbie added: “The project is located within an area the council has formally identified as having capacity for a wind farm actually larger than our Green Burn proposals and we were especially disappointed with the council’s decision in March 2017 to refuse on landscape and visual impact grounds, when neither SNH, the Scottish Government’s landscape advisor, nor the council’s own independent landscape advisor, recommended an objection.”