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Scots windfarm developers ‘running rings around’ planning officials by increasing turbine height 

Credit:  Campaigners say the plans will result in skies that were previously pitch black suffering from significant light pollution. | By Eve Beattie, Trainee Reporter | Scottish Daily Express | 7 MAR 2022 | www.scottishdailyexpress.co.uk ~~

Developers of onshore wind farms have been accused of “running rings around” planning officials by seeking to increase the height of turbines that have previously been approved.

Campaign group Save Our Hills says it has identified at least seven recent examples where planning permission has been granted for blades of a certain height, only to be resubmitted at a far greater height.

The organisation said both council and Scottish Government planners, having already given the green light to the windfarm, then found themselves effectively trapped into consenting to the bigger turbines.

Not only are taller turbines more visually intrusive, but once they pass the 150m limit they have to be lit to alert aircraft.

At least seven examples have been cited in the south of Scotland where this has happened.

The Margree development in Dumfries and Galloway initially gained planning consent for 12 turbines of 125m. That has now been changed to nine turbines of 200m, with Scottish Government ministers currently considering the new bid.

A similar scenario is underway at nearby Cornharrow, where permission for 150m turbines has been replaced by an application for 180m blades.

In Glenshimmeroch, near Castle Douglas, EnergieKontor is currently consulting to increase the height of turbines to 180m, after planning permission was given on appeal for 150m structures.

A controversial proposal at Mochrum Fell was given the green light in 2016 for eight turbines of 126.5m. A fresh application seeks to decrease by one the number of turbines, but raise the height of the rest to 149.9m, which the Civil Aviation Authority require to be lit because of their elevated site.

And Muirhall Energy, which has two developments in East Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, talks of raising the height of turbines at Hopsrig and Loganhead significantly to 200m.

A project at Balunton was also initially earmarked for 125m-high turbines, but the latest scoping report has ramped that up to 200m.

Iain Milligan, spokesman for Save Our Hills, said: “It’s pretty clear what the game is here.

“Get planning permission for one thing, then nudge up the scale in the hope that decision-makers will simply accept the new plan on the basis of approving of the old.

“These are only seven examples in one part of the country and if it’s happening here, it’s bound to be happening elsewhere too.

“Developers are running rings around council and Scottish Government planning officials.

“But they need to remember that all of these applications were granted permission in the face of significant local protest.

“It’s clearly wrong to then ignore that feeling and actually make things worse with much taller turbines.

“It’s not just the sheer scale of these that’s the problem. Turbines of 150m and over must be fitted with lights because they’re deemed a risk to aircraft, which tells you everything about their size.

“Often that results in previously completely dark skies being illuminated by intrusive and irritating lights.

“The fact is the attitude of the Scottish Government towards onshore wind has enabled developers – most of which are foreign-owned – to think they can get away with anything.

“We need a reversal in that attitude now in order to protect the unique and precious landscape upon which so many people and businesses depend.”

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Liam Kerr, said: “It is vital that we have the right mix of energy sources to meet demand going forward, which should include a combination of renewables.

“But local authorities are becoming overwhelmed by these ever-changing plans.

“The situation is being exacerbated further when decisions are overruled in Edinburgh after being taken by the local council.

“These communities are clearly frustrated by the developers’ actions – particularly in areas which are renowned for their scenery where taller turbines could have an impact.

“There is a significant strength of feeling towards onshore windfarms and a balance must be struck, but the SNP should be ensuring the councils have the autonomy to push back when required.”

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

Source:  Campaigners say the plans will result in skies that were previously pitch black suffering from significant light pollution. | By Eve Beattie, Trainee Reporter | Scottish Daily Express | 7 MAR 2022 | www.scottishdailyexpress.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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