Plans for a wind farm close to a picturesque Clyde sea loch look set to fail – but not before a public hearing.
The proposals for a wind farm at Ardtaraig near Loch Striven, comprising seven wind turbines each 13.5m high, are to go before Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee on Wednesday.
But a report produced for the meeting by planning officer Arlene Knox recommends that planning permission is refused subject to a discretionary hearing taking place.
The additional meeting is recommended because nearly 300 objections to the plan have been received by the council’s planning department.
Ms Knox’s report said: “The proposal is considered contrary to government policy, guidance and local development plan policy, and guidance published by the council in the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study
“It will have an adverse effect on the special qualities and integrity of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area and it is not considered that these adverse impacts can be mitigated.
“It is also considered that the proposal will have significant adverse landscape and visual impacts.
“Furthermore, that as a consequence of the proposals significant adverse landscape and visual impacts, the proposed development may influence public attitudes to a point where tourists might become dissuaded from visiting.
“Argyll and Bute Council will resist any development in, or affecting, National Scenic Areas that would have an adverse effect on the integrity of the area, or that would undermine the Special qualities of the area.
“(That is) unless it is adequately demonstrated that any significant adverse effects on the landscape quality for which the area has been designated are clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic benefits of national importance.”
The planned wind farm site is beside Loch Striven, approximately 10 miles west of Dunoon and two miles east of Glendaruel.
Most major bodies consulted, such as Scottish Water, SEPA and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, have expressed no objection.
But along with hundreds of members of the public, two other consulted parties opposed the development.
Ms Knox added: “Scottish Natural Heritage has objected to the proposal on the grounds that the proposal would have an adverse effect on the special qualities and integrity of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area.
“SNH considers that these effects cannot be mitigated. SNH also have significant concerns regarding the landscape and visual impacts of this proposal.
“Scottish Wild Land Group has also objected on the grounds that they believe the environmental and other impacts hugely outweigh any benefits.
“They raise particular concerns about adverse impact on raptors, protected areas, wild land tourism, questionable impacts on global warming, decommissioning/repowering; and ancient woodland.
“At time of writing a total of 356 letters of representations have been received, comprising 293 objections, five petitions from the NAW (No Ardtaraig Wind farm) group, 56 support and two representations.”
In a supporting statement lodged with the council, the planners of the wind farm said the proposed facility would be in use for 25 years and would then be decommissioned.
The statement said: “The importance of taking action to address climate change is recognised both internationally and nationally.
“Successive EU, UK and Scottish Governments have set clear obligations to this end, establishing firm commitments for the promotion and use of renewable energy along with requirements for urgent action.
“The proposed development is a positive response to the ambitious targets for renewable electricity generation described above.
“As such, the renewable electricity output of the proposed development would provide a meaningful uplift to the Scottish and the UK Governments’ renewable electricity targets, while reducing CO2 emissions and playing a positive role in the diversification of the UK’s energy mix.”
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