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Windfarm firm loses appeal over 17-turbine development

Ecotricity has put an urgent call for more renewable power after the Scottish Government upheld Perth and Kinross Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for their 17-turbine wind farm at Dulater Hill near Spittalfield.

Planning permission for the 125-metre turbines with a total output of 57.8 megawatts on the hill, which sits between Dunkeld and Blairgowrie, was refused by Perth and Kinross Council in October 2015.

Following the decision, Scottish ministers called a public local inquiry to be held.

A series of sessions and inspections took place in spring 2017.

The subsequent report from the inquiry was sent to the Scottish ministers in September 2018 recommending that planning permission be refused.

Scottish ministers have now announced their decision to uphold these recommendations and the original decision made by Perth and Kinross Council.

The reporter for the inquiry said the “proposed development would make a valuable contribution in terms of renewable energy generation targets and carbon dioxide savings.”

However, the reporter also found that the “nature, scale and location of the proposed development would accentuate the adverse impacts on the local environment and community to an unacceptabl level.”

The reporter concluded that “in a balance of benefits against detriments the disadvantages of the proposed development are too significant to be overcome by the advantages.”

The Scottish ministers chose to accept the findings from the public local inquiry made by the reporter.

However, they did so acknowledging “the applicant’s positive engagement with the community, the valuable contribution the development proposal could make to renewable energy targets as well as the direct and indirect employment opportunities that the construction of the wind farm could generate.”

SNP Strathtay councillor Grant Laing, who opposed the application back in 2015 was delighted with the news.

He told the PA: “I do believe in wind power but the reason I objected was that it was not in the right place.

“The benefits of the wind power were outweighed by the detriment to the natural environment around about.”

Roddy McInnes, the former chair of Spittalfield and District Community Council (SDCC) strongly opposed the development and attended the public inquiry on behalf of the community council.

He said that the area was “a special place” and the tall turbines would have been visible on the skyline from Broxden roundabout, almost 15 miles away.

He added: “An industrial-type development of 17 wind turbines at 125 metres in height is basically the wrong development in the wrong place.

“Everyone concerned is delighted and relieved at the decision by the Scottish Government to refuse the application.

“SDCC would like to thank the neighbouring community councils and action groups who supported them in their objection, in particular Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council and Lunan Valley Protection Group who along with ourselves participated in the public inquiry.”

A spokesperson for Ecotricity said: “We’re very disappointed with this result.

“There is a global climate emergency taking place and we need to change the balance of decision making to reflect that.

“We don’t have the luxury of being able to fuss over relatively trivial issues like the fact windmills are visible – the country needs more renewable power and we need it now.”