A public inquiry will be held into plans for a revised wind farm with taller turbines proposed for Dava Moor after Highland councillors refused to accept the ‘incredible’ increase in the size of the blades.
Furious members lashed out after they say their views were discarded by Scottish Ministers after an initial application for 20 turbines was approved with a blade tip height of 110 metres.
Renewable Energy Systems (Ltd) has expressed its disappointment at the councillors’ decision to raise an objection to its revised plans for Cairn Duhie Wind Farm north of Grantown.
RES described the proposals as an “optimised” 16-turbine layout using fewer modern turbines which are 150 metres to the tips.
The energy company argued that Cairn Duhie would be capable of producing low-cost, renewable energy for around 52,000 homes.
In addition, the wind farm is expected to deliver approximately £4.4 million of inward investment to the local area in the form of jobs, employment and use of local services and around £21 million in business rates to the council.
The council’s decision at the South Area Planning committee earlier this week to object to the revised project has triggered the independent public inquiry.
“I appreciate they have got existing consent but just because they have that does mean we should roll over and play dead”
Badenoch and Strathspey Councillor Bill Lobban raised the objection and was unanimoulsy supported over its siting and design of the development having a “significant detrimental visual and accumulative impact”.
He said: “This is the wrong development in the wrong place and it remains so.
“When the council originally opposed the application we did so for the right reasons and the fact that was overturned by Scottish Ministers who basically know far more about their area than they ever will is simply ridiculous.
“The fact that the application sees a reduction in turbine numbers pales into insignificance with the massive increase in turbine height from 110 metres to 150 metres.
“I appreciate they have got existing consent but just because they have that does mean we should roll over and play dead.
“What they are talking about is like saying you have planning permission for a bungalow and then changing it to a four storey building.
Councillor Lobban continued: “I think there comes a time when we need to say to the Scottish Government we just don’t accept these things.
“And for us to turn around and say that just because there is a wind farm there already we will just accept it I think is the wrong thing to do.”
Councillor Carolyn Caddick who also sits on the board of the Cairngorms National Park said not only was she “really not happy about the height visibility” but that the application was “taking us for fools.”
“This site is going to be seen from miles all around, it is a relatively flat open area and you will see these turbines,” she said. “We would have seen the ones at 110 metres but they would have been less intrusive but the ones at 150 metres are huge, absolutely huge.
“I would be happy to support an objection because I think it is taking us for fools, yes we have been overruled by the Scottish government but then to rub salt in the wound they are going to go up higher, they are reducing the number, but actually it is the distance you will see them from.”
The energy giant already has permission for 20 turbines at 110 metres to tip at the same site which was granted by Scottish ministers in 2017 despite strong opposition including from the Cairngorms National Park Authority.
Craig Smith, development project manager for RES stated: “Climate change is becoming an ever more pressing threat, and as the world starts to take meaningful action, it is vital that renewable electricity remains at the heart of our plans to tackle global warming.
“Cairn Duhie is a consented project and we’re really disappointed that the councillors have chosen not to back the optimised plans we have put forward which could deliver significant local investment and even more clean, low-cost electricity, from fewer turbines.”
An RES spokesperson said: “The optimised scheme, which was consulted on by RES in 2020, received local support from the community with 65 per cent of comments forms from people in the local area stating that they were ‘supportive’ or ‘strongly supportive’ of the plans.”
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