Plans for an extra seven turbines at Limekiln – the wind farm development close to Reay which has already been the subject of two public inquiries – have met with widespread opposition.
Campaigners are organising a protest next week aimed to coincide with the first of two open days being held in the village by developers Infinergy and Boralex.
Brenda Herrick, of Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, said: “Local people are absolutely furious. We knew they were proposing two consultation meetings but at the time we did not know what it was about.”
A newsletter was circulated to people living in the Reay area highlighting the community open days as well as providing details of the proposed extension to the site.
The consultation events are being held in the village hall on Wednesday, November 20, from 3pm-7pm, and on Thursday, November 21, from 2pm-7pm.
Campaigners have now put posters up in the area informing people about the protest set to take place on the Wednesday evening at 6pm.
Mrs Herrick said: “It is just absolutely shocking – the developers must know how appalled local people are that it was consented second time round and now they have the brass neck to put in additional plans for seven turbines. It is just unbelievable.
“They just do not care. This county is being completely wrecked. It was such a beautiful place when I moved up here 18 years ago.”
The Scottish Government gave the go-ahead to Infinergy and Boralex in June for the 21-turbine, 90 MW Limekiln development, south of Reay.
The newsletter stated: “In addition to planning for construction of the consented scheme, we have been looking at the potential for an extension to the east of the site, called Limekiln Wind Farm Extension.”
The developers are inviting members of the public to go along to the open days so they can discuss the proposal, which involves an area around 4.2km square in size adjacent to the Limekiln Estate.
Protesters have also taken exception to the proposed height of the additional seven turbines, which in the leaflet are described as being a maximum of 149.9 metresand “in keeping with the consented project”.
Mrs Herrick pointed out that the original project had received consent for six turbines at 126 metres and 15 at 139 metres.
“I do not know what they are up to – 149.9 metres is not in keeping with the project,” she said.
She said the last public inquiry had been packed with very angry people.
“I can imagine they will be equally or more angry this time,” she went on. “The people who make the decisions do not have to live with it.
“Reay is going to be just completely encircled. I cannot imagine what it will be like for people living there.
“I do not understand how they can work in an industry which is destroying people’s lives.
“To live somewhere where you cannot look in any direction without seeing huge wind turbines is against the Convention on Human Rights.”
She said that a noise expert would be coming up to look at the site and hoped his visit would coincide with the consultation days.
Mrs Herrick said she would be taking part in the protest, adding: “I will be asking them how they can do it. I do not understand how they can work in an industry which is destroying people’s lives.”
Submission of the planning application for the additional seven turbines is expected in summer 2020.
Infinergy and Boralex say extension would be within Broubster Achaveilan North forest and would increase the installed capacity by about 20 MW.
Nick Sage, project director for Limekiln, said: “We are excited that this additional area of land adjacent to Limeklin Wind Farm is now available to scope out plans for an extension to the consented site. It’s an ideal location to add further capacity to Limekiln Wind Farm and will generate not only more green energy, but add to the community benefit fund and the potential for shared ownership.”
Nicolas Wolff, vice-president and general manager of Boralex Europe, said: “The Limekiln Wind Farm was our first project in Scotland and we are delighted to be able to look to maximise its potential with this extension plan. We believe that maximising capacity from a wind farm through extensions such as this will help address the very real climate emergency we all face.”
The developers say they do not expect the extension plans to create any delays to the original 21-turbine wind farm project. They hope the site will be fully operational before the end of 2022.
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