December 24, 2020

Rogart residents fear encirclement as developer of rejected Sutherland wind farm goes to appeal

Anger from locals as developer fights extension refusal | By Susy Macaulay | The Press and Journal | December 24, 2020 |

A wind farm developer has appealed at the last minute against Highland Council’s refusal of their proposal to extend their Sutherland operation, meaning the case must now go before the Scottish Government.

Wales-based Wind2 wants to extend its Kilbraur site near Rogart by seven more turbines, taller than the existing ones by some 115ft, just shy of the height of a Forth Road bridge tower.

It says the development, which was turned down by Highland councillors in September, is located and designed such that adverse impacts on the natural and human environment are avoided or minimised.

Wind2 also says no adverse effects have been identified “that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the considerable benefits of the development.

“These benefits, and the weight to be attributed, must also be regarded in the context of the current climate emergency and economic crisis and the development’s substantial contribution to renewable energy targets and the local economy.”

But the appeal has left residents anxious and upset, fearing they will be completely encircled by wind farms.

At the moment there are 74 functioning turbines in the area, including Gordonbush, which has also plans to extend.

The extension would impact upon residents in Knockarthur, Inchcomney, Coul, Langwell, Rhilochan and further afield, prompting residents to form of K2Action Group to defend their interests.

Knockarthur resident Michael O Reilly said a 13-turbine development by EDF north-west of Rogart at Tressady was turned down in 2014 on appeal, with Reporter Alison Coard saying that in combination with the existing turbines at nearby Kilbraur “windfarms would become an over-dominant and distinguishing feature of the locality”.

Mr O Reilly said in light of this decision, he hoped the Kilbraur 2 Reporter, Andrew Fleming, would ‘do the right thing’ and deny the appeal.

Fellow campaigner Christina Perera said Ms Coard’s comments were even more applicable to South Kilbraur.

“The proposed tip height is almost five times the height of the nearby iconic Ben Bhraggie monument which dominates the skyline of East Sutherland.

“But worse is that the proposed turbines will be part of the landscape in which people live and work and through which they walk, cycle and drive, and their feelings run deep.”

The group carried out a survey of residents’ feelings about Kilbraur2, to find that 82% were against it.

Mrs Perera said: “Wind 2 knows – because their own research revealed it – that local people are vehemently opposed to this added blight, and yet they still wish to proceed despite this opposition.”

She pointed out that Kilbraur has already received £17m in constraints payments for having to be turned off when too much energy is being created for the grid to cope with.

She said: “But the community benefit is very small.

“The 1.4 jobs Wind2 claims will arise from this development is absolutely risible.

“They are offering £400 off electricity bills, and people feel they cannot publicly object to new windfarm development for fear of being excluded from receiving existing windfarm funds, although the two issues should be kept separate.

“Our once beautiful county and our communities are being destroyed to fulfil government targets.

“Neither the politicians nor the developers have to suffer the consequences of their decisions.

“At the same time we endure fuel poverty and the highest energy tariffs in the country.”

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