‘We don’t want this’: Five Sutherland communities come together with simple message over Meall Buidhe Wind Farm
Objectors to a controversial Sutherland wind farm have sent a strong message to Highland councillors in advance of a special planning meeting next week.
Campaign group No Ring of Steel (NORoS) has released striking images of a protest meeting held against the proposed Meall Buidhe wind farm as well as the proliferation of wind farms in the Rosehall area.
Residents from five Sutherland communities most affected by the development – Rosehall, Altass, Brae, Durcha and Linside – are shown holding banners with slogans against the wind farm.
North councillors are expected to decide the planning application for the eight-turbine development at next Wednesday’s meeting.
NORoS secretary Tracey Smith said: “Local residents wanted to make sure the council understood the local feeling so they staged a protest to make their voices heard.”
Meall Buidhe Renewables LLP is seeking to erect the turbines, measuring 149.9 metres to blade tip, on the side of the hill facing Altass and Rosehall. The site is 4km south west of Rosehall and 12km west of Ardgay.
The land lies on Croick Estate and the site is 8km from the operational Rosehall and Achany wind farms and 10km from the consented Braemore wind farm.
A total of 306 objections have been lodged with planners with NORoS saying the development would further “industrialise” an area already burdened by wind farms.
There are also concerns about the visual effect of the turbines on the landscape, the likely noise nuisance, road access and other worries.
In its objection, the proprietors of the Lower Oykel have warned that the wind farm has “potentially serious consequences” for their angling business.
Newly elected north, west and central Sutherland councillor Michael Baird is on record as having previously objected to the development.
However, Highland Council planners are recommending that the application be approved, despite acknowledging that it would have a significant visual effect.
NORoS said the protest meeting was held at Rosehall Trails when the Meall Buidhe application was set to go to planning a year or so ago.
However, after it was delayed due to issues caused by Covid, it was decided to hold back the images until it again reached the decision stage.
The special planning meeting has had to be arranged to meet the timescales for determination of the application.
Ashley Smith of NORoS said: “We urge councillors to listen to the concerns of residents and take notice of the objections raised by their constituents.
“At the moment the west side of the River Oykel is a landscape of gentle, rolling hills.These turbines and other proposed applications would destroy the visual amenity not only for residents but the many visitors that return to the area year in and out.
“They will turn our rural landscape into an industrial one and the character of our village will be lost forever.
“This is such a small development that it would offer little contribution towards renewable energy generation, but would cause huge landscape and visual impacts, which in turn would cause so much harm to residents, businesses and the local economy. Is it worth it?”
Mr Smith added: “We feel that our small Highland village is facing a tsunami of wind farm applications, with apart from Meall Buidhe, two other applications – Achany extension and Strathoykel – currently with the Scottish Government; plus Braelangwell with the Highland Council.
“After 25 years of seeing application after application being submitted, our villages have said enough is enough. Something urgently needs to be looked at in the planning process to make sure that there is a limit to how many wind farms a small community can accommodate.”
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