Published: 22/11/2012 23:30 - Updated: 22/11/2012 17:58

Planners back wind farm as the protests pour in

An artist’s impression of the Glenmorie wind farm.
An artist’s impression of the Glenmorie wind farm.

HIGHLAND councillors will decide next week on a controversial wind farm planning application for Sutherland.

The North Planning Applications Committee, which meets in Inverness on Tuesday, is set to discuss the 34-turbine Glenmorie Wind Farm, planned for Kildermorie and Glencalvie Estate, near Ardgay.

Developers Glenmorie Wind Farm LLP have scaled down the number of turbines originally proposed from 43 to 34.

Planning officials are recommending the development gets the go-ahead, claiming it has been "located, sited and designed" in such a way as not to be "significantly detrimental".

But over 121 objections have been received by the council with just one letter of support.

The Scottish Government’s Consent Unit has also received some 209 objections.

The main concern is its likely visual impact and effect on the landscape as well as on tourism.

It is claimed that the 125m high turbines would be intrusively visible from Munros such as Ben Wyvis, Beinn Dearg and those in the Fannichs.

Among the objectors is landscape conservation charity the John Muir Trust.

Environmental agency Scottish Natural Heritage withdrew its objection after the number of turbines was reduced.

All four neighbouring community councils – Ardross, Edderton, Ardgay and District and Invergordon – have lodged objections.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) has also registered its dissent.

MCofS Chief Officer, David Gibson said earlier this week that approval of the development would send a strong message to the renewables industry that the Highlands of Scotland were an "open house for massive industrial scale wind farms."

He highlights a line from the report: "Representations that argue against investment in renewable energy can only be given limited weight, given the very positive stance set by the Scottish Government."

Mr Gibson calls for a halt to wind farm developments pending a national "spatial planning policy" for their siting. He said: "The importance of our mountain areas to tourism is not challenged by the government which has designated 2013 as the Year of Natural Scotland: unless the development of wind farms in the mountains is halted now, 2014 may well be the year when the Lights are on but no-one is Homecoming."

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