Highland Council has rejected a proposal for a £44 million wind farm at Ardross.
Members of the north planning applications committee today turned down German firm EnergieKontor UK Ltd application for planning consent to erect the seven-turbine Strathrory Wind Farm.
Seven turbines measuring 250m to blade tip were proposed at Strathrory.
The location pinpointed for the development was north of Strathy Burn and east of the B9178, around 4km north east of Ardross and 8km north west of Alness.
The development went through a number of amendments during the application process with the number of turbines cut by one and the height to blade tip reduced from 180 metres to just under 150 metres.
But more than 50 objections from groups and individuals were still lodged with planners.
Ardross Community Council remained concerned, citing the impact on landscape, local economy and recreational routes as well as visual intrusion.
The community council also feared damaging environmental changes including the adverse lighting impact on dark skies and bats; habitat, ecology and ornithology; construction traffic impacting on cultural heritage assets (war memorial).
Its statement read: “The scale of the proposed turbines is also of particular concern, with the design of the wind farm not demonstrating sensitive sitting in the opinion of the community council.
“It considers that the reduction in scale of the proposal through the Environmental Impact Assessment and Further Environmental Impact II has also not made any material difference and some of the amended turbine position have made the scheme worse.
“It also considers that the landscape and visual impacts have been underplayed, with over reliance placed upon surrounding commercial forestry for screening, much of which is due to be felled within the operational lifetime of the wind farm.”
Committee chairwoman and local councillor Councillor Maxine Smith proposed refusing the application based on the significant visual impact and local feeling.
She said: “There are probably more than a few hundred wind turbines near Ardross currently. I don’t know the exact number.
“There seems to be a lot of dwellings that will seem to be impacted by visibility. You can still see the giant turbines from various locations – Lealty Lodge, the Black Isles, and also from the Fyrish Monument.
“The proximity to local housing, the cumulative impact, the effect on the dark skies – all of which Ardross Community Council objected to.
“And over the weekend I received about 25 emails objecting to this with different reasons and some of the people will be living near this.
“So for all of these reasons but mostly on the impact on the local community in Ardross, I am going to put forward a motion to refuse this application.”
Cllr Derek Macleod said: “I cannot get beyond that Ardross Community Council have objected and 53 objections have been received from a small community.
“You have taken the views of what people will see in the passing but you have to take the views of the people who actually live there, who are seeing turbines around there day to day.
“So I think there has to be a greater emphasis on local feeling in matters such as this, and as others have said there is plenty of onshore wind generation to make up for the absence of this one.”
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