‘We shouldn’t roll over and play dead’ – Highland Council objects taller turbines at Cairn Duhie wind farm
Highland Council members say they are being “taken for fools” following an amended planning application for a wind farm at Glenferness, near Nairn.
Scottish ministers gave consent for Cairn Duhie wind farm in 2017, despite objections from Highland Council, Moray Council and local campaign groups.
The consented scheme was for 20 wind turbines at a height of 110 metres (360ft). However, operators Renewable Energy Systems (RES) have now submitted a new planning application.
The amended plan reduces the number of turbines to 16 but increases the blade tip height to 149.9 metres (491ft).
The applicant also wants to add a borrow pit and battery storage, and extend the operational life of the wind farm to 35 years.
‘The wrong development in the wrong place’
As the Scottish Government has already agreed to a wind farm in this location, Highland Council has limited power to stop it.
The local planning committee cannot refuse the application, but it can object.
Councillor Bill Lobban led the debate.
“This is quite simply the wrong development in the wrong place,” he said.
“When the council originally opposed the application we did so for the right reasons. The fact that that was overturned by Scottish ministers, who basically ignored members… is simply ridiculous.”
Mr Lobban said the reduction in turbine numbers “pales into insignificance” given the 40-metre (131ft) increase in turbine height.
“Just because they’ve got existing consent doesn’t mean to say we should roll over and play dead,” he said.
“What you’re talking about is something like having planning permission for a bungalow and then changing it to a four-storey building.
“There comes a time where we need to say to the Scottish Government ‘we don’t accept these things.’”
Several members endorsed Mr Lobban’s position, with Carolyn Caddick saying the application “takes us for fools.”
Mr Lobban’s objection is based on the visual impact of the proposed wind farm.
It states that the application is contrary to Policy 67 of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan, the Onshore Wind Energy Supplementary Guidance and Scottish Planning Policy.
Councillor Denis Rixson seconded the objection and it was unanimously passed by members of the committee.
‘It appears now our opinions are completely irrelevant’
According to the planning report, the application attracted four objections to the council and 11 objections to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit.
Planning officers said there were two late letters of support, one from a local resident and another from a contractor.
Committee chairman Jimmy Gray said he supports onshore wind but could not support the process here.
“It appears now our opinions are completely irrelevant,” he said.
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