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No appeal for Hill of Forss wind farm refusal

A Caithness wind farm campaigner has welcomed the news that there will be no appeal for the Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm after Highland Council knocked back the plans.

Brenda Herrick’s comments come following the announcement from the company behind the proposals that they will not try to get the decision overturned.

However, RES said it still believed the Hill of Forss is a good site for a wind farm.

RES, the world’s largest independent renewable energy company, was refused planning for the eight-turbine site, which lies approximately 4.5km north-west of Thurso and in an area identified by the council as having “potential for wind farm development” in March.

Ms Herrick, of Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, said: “It is good news for now, although I notice they say they have decided not to appeal on this occasion – I would not be a bit surprised if they come back with a new application. They just keep changing things all the time.

“Cairnmore Hill got masses of objections. I am not sure if I have ever seen quite so many objections – I suppose because they were next to Thurso and were very well organised.”

The campaigner said she tries to support local groups while becoming more and more involved with wind farm proposals in Sutherland. “I just wish that groups would support each other more,” said Mrs Herrick. “It would be nice if the Cairnmore people could look to what else is coming and object to more.

“It would just be so good if everybody that is opposed to wind farms in Caithness could watch out for the latest application and object to it. One or two are very good, the majority fight their own corner, then that is that. It would be so much better if we could all join together.”

Mrs Herrick noted that plans for an application for 11 wind turbines at Slickly, Lyth, were on the Highland Council planning agenda for Tuesday, June 8, with the recommendation for refusal, while a project at Hollandmey, 8km south-west of John O’Groats was still at the scoping stage.

She added: “Let’s hope Cairnmore is final and let’s hope Slickly is refused.”

Paula Batchelor, project manager for RES, said: “We remain of the opinion that Cairnmore Hill is a good project in a suitable location. However, reflecting on some of the feedback the planning application received we have decided not to appeal on this occasion and instead take time to further consider our options for the site.

“At a time when we’re facing the dual challenges of a climate emergency and the economic impact of Covid-19, we need projects like Cairnmore Hill to help us deliver low cost, low carbon electricity and significant local economic investment.”

The proposals attracted around 700 objections and a group – Action Against Cairnmore Windfarm – was set up on Facebook.