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Demands to scrap Highland wind farm with 200m-tall turbines in birthplace of Scotch whisky 

Credit:  By Ilona Amos ‚ Published 30th Jun 2024 · scotsman.com ~~

“It would appear that the application process has stalled and, in the view of the Trust, it is time for action on the part of the ECU and ministers.”

Residents of a historic community in the Highlands are calling for Scottish ministers to block plans to erect a new wind farm with 200m-tall turbines on their doorstep after developers failed to make changes to the proposed scheme which were recommended a year ago.

Locals of the Cabrach, a remote and sparsely populated area on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park with claims to be the birthplace of malt whisky, are urging the Scottish Government to reject the Clashindarroch Wind Farm Extension. They say too much time has passed without action on the 22-turbine scheme, which they say would threaten regeneration of the local area and damage the landscape.

As well as its whisky heritage, the Cabrach area has historical links to the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with rolling hills, a river noted for salmon and wildlife in abundance.

The calls come after an expert review of the planning application for the 195-megawatt wind farm and accompanying battery storage facility, due to be built on Cabrach Estate in Moray.

The development – a collaboration between the land owner, London-based businessman Christopher Moran, and renewables developer Infinergy – will stretch across 859 hectares of the estate, which was formerly managed as a grouse moor.

Concerns over impacts

The application was lodged with the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU) in December 2022, with responses from locals and consultees, including the local authority, Ministry of Defence (MoD) and various community, heritage and environmental organisations, filed over the next six months.

Moray Council responded with a list of 13 concerns, sought a redesign of the scheme and proposed 26 conditions if the wind farm was to go ahead.

But a review commissioned by the Cabrach Trust, a community group dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the region and the well-being of its inhabitants, found progress had “stalled” and the applicants had not responded to requests by ECU officials for information on key design changes for more than seven months.

Planning consultant Ian Kelly, who carried out the probe, with legal advice from senior lawyer and planning specialist James Findlay KC, said “the applicants would have needed to undertake significant redesign of the scheme” to address the issues raised by the council and other consultees, including the MoD. However, a Freedom of Information request shows no sign of such work being done.

Mr Kelly said: “It would appear that the application process has stalled and, in the view of the trust, it is time for action on the part of the ECU and ministers.”

Fears over number of wind turbines

A total of 98 turbines are already in operation or consented around the Cabrach area, and a further 118 are planned.

Locals say the scale of wind power in the area is “disproportionate” and could jeopardise a major community renewal project that is under construction – the £5 million Cabrach Distillery and Heritage Centre.

The Cabrach Trust chief executive Jonathan Christie said: “Should the latest proposals be approved, it would not only devastate our fragile rural community and vital upland ecology, but severely limit our community-owned regeneration initiative becoming reality and hamper our objective of people living, working and visiting the Cabrach.”

A spokesperson for the applicants said: “Clashindarroch Wind Farm Extension is currently making its way through the planning process. The Scottish Government is considering the proposals in detail and responses from statutory and non-statutory consultees are taken into account. Throughout this thorough process, we are working with the planning authority as appropriate to ensure that, should the application be approved, the best possible project will move forward to construction.”

Source:  By Ilona Amos ‚ Published 30th Jun 2024 · scotsman.com

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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