North councillors have unanimously come out against the planned Strath Oykel wind farm.
Members of the North Planning Applications Committee agreed at a meeting today to object to the development.
Councillors were concerned at the potential impact of the 11-turbine, 73mw scheme on the landscape and the visual amenity.
Planning officials had recommended that no objection be raised.
At 200m high, the proposed turbines would be amongst the tallest in Scotland.
Under section 36 of the electricity act, Highland Council cannot decide on large-scale wind farm applications over a generating capacity of 50mw – instead that decision lies with Scottish Government ministers.
The authority’s objection is likely to trigger a public inquiry.
Members of campaign group No Ring of Steel, (NoROS) have campaigned vociferously against the Strath Oykel development. NoROS has said the area is becoming “saturated” with wind farms.
German-owned company Energiekontor Uk proposed to establish the wind farm on an area of land 2.8km from Rosehall.
The power company initially sought to erect 16 turbines but then reduced the number to 13 and finally to 11.
But there were around 168 objections, although letters in support were also received citing possible economic benefit to the area.
Among those who objected was Lower Oykel Fishings who said the wind farm and its construction would jeopardise one of the county’s best fishing spots and would be devastating to salmon and rare freshwater pearl mussel populations.
At today’s meeting, councillors said it was evident by the number of emails received that the local community was strongly against the development.
Cllr Margaret Paterson said the turbines were an “unacceptable height”.
“People are deeply distressed at the thought of these huge turbines and they will have a devastating imapct on the lives of humans and wildlife,” she said.
“The area is fast becoming a huge industrial site. This wind farm is too big and too high and in the wrong place.”
Cllr Sarah Atkin was concerned about local residents being disturbed by potential noise from the development.
“If this goes ahead, it opens up development to the south and encircles the community with no escape from noise,” she said. “I am concerned about how this can be mitigated”.
Committee members supported a motion from Cllr Michael Baird, North, West and Central Sutherland, to raise an objection.
A spokesperson for NoROS said: “We are delighted that members of the North Area Planning Committee listened to the concerns of local residents and recognised the adverse effects it would have not only on our community but the wider landscape.
“We must also thank everyone who submitted objections and contacted their councillors.
“However this is just a first victory in what could be a long battle, we now wait to hear the response to this decision from the Scottish Government and the developers Energiekontor.”
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