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Wind farm developers plan more turbines even before construction on controversial site begins

Wind farm developers have sparked fury after revealing plans to extend a controversial Highland development – which has gone through two public inquiries – before construction even begins.

Infinergy and Boralex are preparing to erect 21 turbines on a forested area just south of Reay in Caithness after securing planning consent from Scottish ministers at the second time of asking.

But the joint venture partners have also been finalising a proposal to build up to seven more turbines on an adjoining site – a move described as “greedy” by protesters.

The proposed extension has enraged opponents who are preparing a fresh campaign to stop the new development.

Brenda Herrick, of Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, said yesterday: “After we have had the two public inquiries, they have the nerve to stick an application for an extension. It is unbelievable.

“They must know how unpopular they are in this area with the latest public inquiry attracting 288 letters of objection and a 1,500-strong petition.

“But they are greedy for the profits these developments make.”

She added: “Apart from the expense of staging two public inquiries, the planning fees don’t come anywhere near to the cost to the planning authority.”

Mrs Herrick has written to UK Energy Minister Andrew Leadsom to protest about the scale of wind farm development in the far north and supporting a moratorium on new proposals in the area.

Scottish Ministers rejected the Limekiln scheme in 2013 but, following a second pubic inquiry, gave the green light in June.

Infinergy and Boralex are making preparations to install the 21 turbines, which will stand between between 126 and 133 metres high.

The proposed extension, covering four square kilometres, is to the immediate east of the existing site.

The developers are consulting on their intention to put up a further seven turbines, with a blade-tip height of 149.5 metres.

They say that, if granted, its community benefit fund from its presence would exceed £400,000 a year.

The extension plans are not expected to add any delays to the original 21-turbine wind farm project.

Full construction works are envisaged to start in 2021 and developers expect the site to be fully operational before the end of 2022.

Infinergy and Boralex announced the execution of a 50-50 joint venture agreement in October 2017, aimed at developing a pipeline of onshore wind projects, including the Limekiln Wind Farm project, essentially located in Scotland for a total estimated capacity of 325 MW.

Limekiln project director Nick Sage said: “We are excited that this additional area is available to scope out plans for an extension to the consented site.

“It’s an ideal location to add further capacity to the wind farm and will generate not only more green energy, but add to the community benefit fund and the potential for shared ownership.”

Residents are being invited to view the new plans at drop-in sessions in Reay’s Victoria Hall between 3-7pm on November 20 and between 2-7pm on November 21.