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Bid to increase height of turbines at Lairg 2 development

A developer is seeking to increase the height of turbines on a planned wind farm in Sutherland just weeks after being given consent for their construction and despite concerns over how tall they already are.

German company Energiekontor wants to up the height of seven of the 10 turbines at the Lairg 2 development by 10 metres – from 180 to 190 metres.

Far North anti-windfarm campaigner Brenda Herrick says she is taken aback at the speed with which the power company has acted following consent and that developers should not allowed to continually alter plans.

Members of the North Planning Applications Committee gave the green light to Energiekontor for the Lairg 2 development at a meeting on June 9. The plans have undergone a number of changes. The site in question is close to the existing three-turbine Lairg 1 wind far on land 4km south-east of the village.

Councillors were told that seven of the turbines would measure 180 metres to tip height with the remaining three coming in at 150 metres.

Some 26 representations were received with an even split between those objecting to the project and those in favour. Lairg Community Council supported it.

A major concern was the height of the turbines and their impact they would have on the landscape.

However, councillors backed the scheme with North, West and Central Sutherland councillor Kirsteen Currie saying elected members had to take a “balanced view”.

It has now emerged that Energiekontor has submitted a‘Pre-Application Notice’ to increase seven turbines of the turbines by 10m and, according to the application form, has already written to five community councils in the area.

Developers have in recent years opted for fewer but taller turbines, which can capture wind energy more efficiently – the blades can sweep a circle in the sky as long as a football field.

The new turbines would be substantially higher than the London Eye, which stands at 135 m; Big Ben at 96m and the Scott Monument at 60m.

Mrs Herrick said: “It’s common these days for developers to apply to increase tip height between consent and construction but I’ve not seen one as quickly as this before.

“It does not exactly inspire confidence that developers cannot make up their minds from one minute to the next; these are big companies.How many more changes before it is finally constructed?”

She added that she was concerned the application to increase the turbines’ height could be decided under delegated powers.