‘People more important’ – Highland vetoes plan for giant wind turbines
Credit: 20 Oct 2022 | The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) | NICOLA SINCLAIR, LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTER ~~
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Highland Council has objected to a Sutherland wind farm application that attracted 168 complaints from the public.
Members lined up to raise their concerns – with not a single councillor supporting the project.
Renewables firm Energiekontor is applying to the Scottish Government to put up 11 turbines in Strath Oykel.
Highland was invited to comment on the proposal and planning officials recommended raising no objection.
However, councillors received a deluge of objections from the community and told north planning committee: “We must listen.”
They unanimously agreed with Michael Baird and Margaret Paterson to object to the Strath Oykel wind farm plan.
Ms Paterson told the committee people had a sense of “here we go again” as yet another wind farm was proposed. She said the beautiful area was fast becoming an industrial site.
“People are more important than the companies who want to make money,” said Ms Paterson. “These are people’s beloved homes.”
She added that 168 people had objected to the plans and highlighted their “deep distress”.
While Mr Baird welcomed the positive contribution of renewables in addressing climate change, he said the application was contrary to section 67 of the
Highland-wide local development plan. It would have a detrimental impact on the area, and “the perceived encirclement of communities in Strath Oykel”.
Sutherland councillor Richard Gale said: “These turbines are 200 metres (656ft) in height. Blackpool Tower is 158m tall and here we have 11 of them, in some cases less than 1,500m (1,640 yards) from residential properties. We cannot do that.”
Mr Gale raised the negative impact on people’s health: “Imagine 35 years of constant noise and flicker on your body, household and community. That is huge.”
Former north planning chairwoman Maxine Smith said in her 15 years with the committee, she had never seen so many objections to a single application.
She said local objections matter most and she was moved by the strength of feeling expressed.
Earlier, members had considered other planning applications from Energiekontor.
The developer had asked permission to revise the traffic management plan and access track to another wind farm, Strathrory in Alness.
Ardross community council had objected but the planning committee agreed the plans were acceptable.
However, members did voice concern that large scale wind farm developments were causing havoc on fragile communities and crumbling rural roads.
Strathrory had been thrown out by council, only to be overturned by the Scottish Government on appeal.
Ms Smith pleaded with the Scottish Government not to repeat that history with Strath Oykel.
“We have to listen to what the community wants,” she said.
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