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Site visit hears opposing views to north wind farm plan

Scottish Government reporter Robert Seaton yesterday oversaw an inspection of the site of what would be the highest wind farm in Caithness.

E.ON is seeking the green light to put up 19 turbines on cleared forestry ground at Golticlay, a couple of miles north of Lybster.

They would stand 427ft from the ground to the tip of their blades, which is 33ft taller than any of the existing 125 turbines in the county or the 63 which are under construction or have planning approval.

Those on the nearby site at Camster are 397ft high while turbines going up at Halsary, on the Causewaymire, extend to 394ft.

Yesterday’s site visit followed four days of evidence Mr Seaton heard at a pubic local inquiry in Wick into E.ON’s latest scheme.

Mr Seaton was accompanied by representatives of the developer and Highland Council, whose objection triggered the inquiry.

They braved stormy weather to tour the site and take in viewpoints flagged up during the hearings. They included vistas from Lybster, Roster, Camster Cairns and the stone circle at Achavanich.

They also visited the home of objector Joanne Bowd at Braeval Cottage, Roster.

Mrs Bowd earlier told the inquiry how the turbines would tower over her home.

Mrs Bowd said: “The property is the highest in Roster at 460ft above sea level and is built on a north to south axis with all major windows bar one facing directly west to the proposed wind farm.

“There are no natural or man-made structures between our property and the wind farm to lessen the impact of the development.”

She said the only structures currently visible on the western skyline are the Rumster TV transmission mast and the three smaller masts on Ben-a-Chielt.

Mrs Bowd said: “The view from our property is outstanding at present. At night there is no light pollution at all in the western sky, giving us beautiful sunsets and brilliant star-lit skies.

“This would be totally destroyed by the wind farm which would be a large-scale industrial development in the middle of what is currently a wilderness area.”

E.ON claims the wind farm is in line with guidelines and that the turbines can be accommodated within the landscape without undue problems.

Mr Seaton will give a written report and recommendation to Scottish environment minister Paul Wheelhouse.