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Campaigners claim village ‘under siege’ as fourth wind farm proposed

Campaigners against a proposed Sutherland wind farm development – the fourth within sight – fear their village is “under siege”.

The K2 Action Group, which compromises of residents in and around the village of Rogart, have hit out at the proposal by Wind2 to erect seven new turbines measuring in at 432 feet – more than 260 feet taller than the Forth Rail Bridge.

Campaigners have raised concerns relating to the development complying with the Highland Local Development Plan, fearing that they do not comply and will deliver nuisances of noise and flicker as well as increased traffic and blighting local homes.

The group have also raised concerns about what they describe as “very selective financial inducements” being offered to those living near to the scheme.

Campaigner Michael O’Reilly has said some members of the local community can “already see three different wind farms from their homes and a company from Wales wants to make sure we can see four”.

He added: “Green is green and we are all for it. Just not all in the same place. It’s not renewable energy that we are against. It is this development, in this location.

“A lot of B&Bs and accommodation owners are reporting a downturn in visitors because who wants to come and see a windfarm?”

A community-led consultation in the village of Rogart has established that the majority of residents are against the proposed South Kilbraur development, with 80% of 181 respondents agreeing that the windfarm would be intrusive.

Ewan Eley, project manager at Wind 2, said the financial incentive being offered was to address concerns raised at the consultation stage regarding developments not necessarily bringing residents electric bills down.

He added that the consultants used on the project are specialists who are “highly regarded”.

Mr Eley added: “If this application is consented and developed we have stated that we will make a contribution, as part of the community benefits package, to near neighbours, either in the form of an annual contribution to electricity bills or a grant sum towards energy efficiency measures for properties near to the development.

“Concerns regarding the independence of the environmental impact assessment process are regularly raised by members of the public, as the developer pays these costs, however, guidance on methods and processes must be followed and if not done so, they would rightly be criticised by the likes of Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB, Highland Council, Historic Environment Scotland and SEPA.”

Mr Eley also confirmed there are no current plans to expand on the current number of turbines proposed in the area despite residents concerns. However, he added that he could not rule out any future development.