THE potential impact on Sutherland residents’ lives saw councillors throw out plans for a 13-turbine wind farm on the Tressady Estate, near Rogart.
Despite officials recommending Wind Prospect Developments’ scheme for approval, Highland Council’s north planing committee voted 7-2 to reject it today, following a site visit 24 hours earlier.
The turbines would have been 115-metres high within the Strath Fleet watershed between the hilltops of Cnoc na Fardaich to the north-west and Cnoc na h Uaighe to the south-east, but councillors were alarmed at its proximity to residents’ homes.
East Sutherland and Edderton councillor Graham Phillips – who had demanded the site visit last month after one local resident was in tears explaining to him how the noise from nearby turbines blighted his life – led the move to reject the application by tabling the successful motion.
Thirty objections had been lodged, with the growing number of wind farms in the area, potential noise pollution and already operational Kilbraur wind farm highlighted.
Rogart Community Council had not objected but voiced concern over the number of similar projects.
Councillor Phillips said he could not support the development because of the potential effect on local people and said its supporters were those whose families could make money out of it or who flagged up the financial benefits for the wider community.
He said the terrain would probably have been left untouched as designated “wild land” if previous development had not taken place.
“Where we were actually seeing (on the site visit) would be wild land if it hadn’t been muddled by the land down the road at Kilbraur,” he said. “The landscape is largely empty.”
Caithness councillor Donnie Mackay said there was already too many turbines in the area. “It is some lovely scenery and I think we would be spoiling that scenery; the other point is that it’s so close to the houses,” he said.
But Wick councillor Bill Fernie and Dingwall member Angela MacLean, who had “sympathy” with local people but thought there was enough space for the turbines, supported the major renewable development.
“I am surprised to see that the area is ‘intensely occupied’ in a rural area of Sutherland,” said Councillor Fernie, who claimed the authority would have described it as a “sparsely populated” if it was applying for some form of grant for another issue.
Councillor MacLean added: “While I can have sympathy for the objectors we have policies so we can follow them.”
Councillor Phillips said last month that one constituent had been in tears explaining how the drone from turbines at the Kilbraur wind farm disturbed him.
“He lives exactly half-way between where Tressady would go and Kilbraur and the resident described it like a generator over the fence,” said Councillor Phillips.
After hearing of the decision, Sophie Nioche, development manager for the Tressady Wind Farm proposal, said: “We’re extremely disappointed by today’s decision. We will review the decision notice once it’s published and consider the next steps to take.”