Highland Council has finally decided its stance on long-running plans for a 13-turbine windfarm at Strathy Forest.
Members agreed under delegated powers at a meeting last month that they were against the Strathy Wood development.
An objection will now be lodged with the Scottish Government with Ministers having the final say over the windfarm because its installed capacity is 62.4 mw. Under S36 of the Electricity Act, local authorities can only take a decision on onshore windfarms on or below a threshold of 50mw.
The Strathy Wood windfarm is earmarked to go on forest land, which it is stated in planning documents, is owned by Chester Kelly.
The planned location is between SSE’s 33-turbine Strathy North windfarm, which is operational, and its 39-turbine Strathy South, consent for which was granted following a public enquiry. The company now wants increase the tip height of turbines at Strathy South from 135m to 200m.
Plans for the Strathy Wood scheme go back as far as 2013 with power company E.ON originally applying for up to 26 turbines measuring 145 metres to tip height. But the application has undergone various amendments and the number of turbines was reduced to 18 before being decreased still further to 13. However the turbines proposed are now bigger, measuring 180 metres to tip.
Planners have received a number of objections from individuals and environmental groups including RSPB, John Muir Trust and Wildland Ltd.
There are concerns that the site is adjacent to Caithness and Sutherland Peatlands Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Fears have also been expressed about the visual impact. E.On says that ‘woodland restructuring and habitat restoration’ would be carried out.
Brenda Herrick of Caithness Windfarm Information Forum is worried about the cumulative effect of the three developments in the Strathy area.
She said: “If Strathy Wood is consented by the Minister, which could well happen as they regularly over-rule council opinion, plus the proposed changes to Strathy South, the area could end up with an enormous 85 turbine windfarm with tip heights from 110m to 200m.
“The larger blade length which goes with increased height will add to the effect.There is also a requirement for aviation lighting on turbines over 150m.
“The whole thing is a nightmare but sadly the Government does not care that it is progressively destroying Sutherland and Caithness, as well as much of Highlands and other once beautiful areas of Scotland.”
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