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End of the road for Helmsdale mini windfarm plan

A last-ditch attempt by a Helmsdale landowner to erect five 125m high turbines on his land, has failed.

Highland Council in March rejected a planning application from Navidale Estate owner Phil Davidson to install the turbines on an elevated site 3290 metres to the north east of the Church of Scotland at West Helmsdale.

Among councillors who objected was East Sutherland and Edderton representative Richard Gale.

Mr Davidson appealed the decision but now Scottish Government reporter Keith Bray has turned that appeal down.

In background planning papers, the plan was said to have “divided” the community” with Helmsdale Community Council opting to remain neutral.

There were 151 objections to the turbines and 53 letters of support. Scottish Natural Heritage was against the plan.

The major fear was over the damage the development would cause to peatland – valued for the role it plays in carbon capture.

But those in favour cited the economic benefit with a commitment to pay more than £33,000 a year in community benefit.

Reporter Mr Bray visited the site on three occasions in July this year.

He found that the proposed turbines would impact on wild land area and have a significant “distracting and prominent” visual effect.

Regarding the peat issue, he states in his report: “I conclude that there would be significant effects on a Class 1 peatland habitat that cannot be mitigated within the site by siting and design.”

In his conclusion, he writes: “I do not consider that the scale of the benefits of the proposal, including a positive carbon balance, would be of greater importance than the negative environmental effects and the grounds of objection from Scottish Natural Heritage.”

It had been estimated that construction work would benefit the local economy by £1.16 million.