THE merits of carrying out site visits for new wind farms has been questioned by Highland councillors who have declared the trips a waste of time and money.
Members of the local authority clashed during a debate on the practice which sees planning committees regularly travel to the proposed locations so they can view for themselves how the turbines may affect a landscape or communities if they are built.
The region’s wind farm boom in recent years has increased the number of trips which are often arranged after heavy pressure from protesters and communities who want huge renewable developments to be assessed on the ground.
Councillors visited the planned 34-turbine Glenmorie wind farm south of Ardgay on Monday and will return to Sutherland next month assess the 27-turbine Dalnessie scheme.
However, Councillor Bill Fernie said the trips served little purpose but wasted cash and he called for a review of the practice.
He told the north planning committee in Inverness yesterday that most councillors already knew the areas well enough beforehand and technology such as Google Earth could be used to inspect sites without the need for lengthy travel.
“I think we should discuss at some stage whether we should be doing these site visits,” the Wick councillor said.
“We should be looking to cut down the cost of these trips. They are taking all day – it is a lot of money.”
Buses are hired by the council and food is provided for the members and officials who go on the site visits.
- More on this story in Friday’s Northern Times.