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Argyll wind farm plan fails to gain backing

Plans for a 17-turbine wind farm in Argyll failed to gain the support of local councillors yesterday who feared it would have a detrimental impact on peat resources in the area.

Argyll and Bute Council was asked to respond to a Scottish Government consultation on the proposal by Coriolis Energy.

Blarghour Wind Farm is proposed to be situated between Loch Awe and Loch Fyne, just under five miles north west of Inveraray. The turbines would be visible from the villages of Dalavich and Inverinan.

Turbines would have a maximum ground-to-tip height of 447ft and there would be an access track to the A819 Inveraray to Dalmally road. These turbines would be taller than the ones at the nearby An Suidhe wind farm.

But it was concerns raised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) about the impact of the development on soil and peat resources which encouraged councillors to back the planning department’s recommendation to object.

Senior planner Arlene Knox said: “SNH have concerns about the impact on the carbon rich soils and deep peatlands. There are also concerns about the impact on the landscape.”

Councillor Robin Currie said: “The fact that SNH are objecting, that’s serious isn’t it?”
“That’s correct,” replied Ms Knox.

She concluded: “It is accepted that the proposal would make an important contribution to Scottish Government renewable energy targets and greenhouse gas emissions.

“However taking all matters into account as well as the most recent reports and the overall impact on peat, landscapes and local habitats the proposal would produce, this would outweigh the benefits.”

So far there have been 105 letters of representation made to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit with 65 in support and 40 objections.

Supporters cite the positive impacts of farm diversification and economic benefits. They also praise the habitat management plan and say wind farms are the least obtrusive way of generating power.

Objectors say there will be an adverse impact on the landscape, that the scale and siting is unacceptable and Loch Awe is already a significant producer of renewable energy.

Lynne Sweeney, project development manager at Coriolis Energy, said: “We are disappointed that the officers recommendation didn’t take account of the extra environmental information we supplied.

“The objection was based on the impact on peat and not the landscape.”