Protesters who successfully scuppered a bid to site a wind farm overlooking Thurso are gearing up for a fresh fight.
Highland Council last year refused RES planning consent to erect eight turbines on Cairnmore Hill.
But the energy company has given notice of its intention to submit a new application, this time for five turbines on the same site, 4.5 kilometres north-west of the town.
The development has disappointed but not surprised Action Against Cairnmore Windfarm, which spearheaded the opposition to the original scheme.
Spokesman John Crofts said the turbines, with a bladetip height of 138.5 metres, would amount to “environmental vandalism” and destroy the panoramic views of Thurso Bay.
Dr Crofts, a retired safety and plant manager at Dounreay, said: “We knew from the history of other sites that they would not go away.
“These big companies have the power and the money and will just keep banging away to get what they want.
“The drop in the number of turbines from eight to five does not make any real difference to the impact the scheme will have on the area.
“And if they get permission for five, they will then push to get more – it amounts to corporate bullying.”
Dr Crofts (73) said the turbines would have a dramatic impact on local residents and the views to and from Thurso.
He said: “The windmills would be almost as high as the hill they would stand on. They would completely dominate Thurso Bay.”
Dr Crofts said this would be bad news for people following the North Coast 500 who currently can enjoy unobstructed views over the bay and out to Orkney and Dunnet Head.
He and his wife Jean live at Windrift, Forss, which would be about 800 metres from the nearest turbine.
The couple engaged a professional to consider the impact the original scheme would have on them.
Dr Crofts said this had shown there would be completely unacceptable effects in terms of the shadow flicker of the blades, noise nuisance and visual impact.
He said more than 700 people from about 550 households objected to the first application.
The action group, he said, is preparing to mount a fresh campaign to fight the new scheme.
He said: “We can’t do much just now as they have just notified their intention to go ahead with the five-turbine scheme.
“We will have to wait until they prepare a revised environmental impact assessment as part of their new planning application before we are involved in the process.
“But we are talking to each other within our group and will be ready to act.”
Highland Council knocked back the original scheme in March last year after finding it would have unacceptable impacts on the landscape, visual amenity and on residents.
RES’s new plans involve a 21-megawatt venture which would operate for 35 years. It is confident it can demonstrate that the changes can overcome the council’s objections to the original scheme.
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