'Ring of steel' fears as Kilbraur South developer Wind2 appeals decision by Highland Council to refuse permission for wind farm
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A new fight over a controversial "ring of steel" wind farm planned in East Sutherland has started after the developer appealed against the refusal of planning permission.
South Kilbraur Windfarm Limited, part of the Wind2 family of companies, had applied last year for consent to install the 149.9-metre turbines some 1km south of the existing Kilbraur wind farm, located in the Rogart area.
The planned seven turbines would have been a third larger than the Forth Bridge at 110 metres and just short of the height at which aircraft warning lights would be needed.
But Highland Council, in a decision notice, refused permission on visual grounds.
Now an appeal has been submitted to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division with an anticipation that it will be determined by the summer.
Michael O’Reilly, who set up Kilbraur 2 Action Group in 2019, said north councillors had made the right decision.
But now they faced a new fight to stop the “colossal” turbines which would be visible for for “dozens of miles”.
"Sadly the developer has now appealed to the Scottish Government to overturn the Kilbraur South decision and we are once again a community under siege," he said.
"Rogart is in danger of being completely encircled by a ring of steel. The seven new turbines will dwarf the existing Kilbraur wind farm and will dominate the top of Dunrobin Glen, Knockarthur, Inchomney and West Langwell. But they will be visible from dozens of miles away – from Golspie to Lairg and beyond.
"A community-led consultation proved that the majority of Rogart folk are completely against Kilbraur South. And yet this company from Wales, Wind2, is still pushing to impose this blight on our fragile community.
"If the appeal is successful it bodes ill for the future as Wind 2 have indicated that this is only phase 1 of their plan. It is clear that if the Highland Council’s decision is overturned this will only be the beginning and they will make sure that yet more colossal turbines will be built. It’s really urgent as we must respond by December 30.
"It’s not renewable energy that we are against. It is this development, in this location.
"We strongly urge people to make their objection to the appeal by emailing the case officer, Laura Walker (email address Laura.Walker@scot.gov.uk) or writing to her at DPEA, Hadrian House, Callendar Business Park, Falkirk, FK1 1XR."
Highland Council's refusal notice read: “The proposed wind farm would introduce a large-scale wind farm within close proximity to, but distinctly separate from, the existing Kilbraur wind farm and its extension, changing the nature of this existing rural landscape to one which is characterised by wind farm developments.”
On its website, Wind2 says South Kilbraur wind farm would have the potential to generate around 91,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, sufficient to meet the needs of around 22,000 homes while offsetting approximately 39,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
If approved, Wind2 is also committed to providing a community benefit fund equivalent to £5000 per megawatt of installed capacity per year. Based on 28 megawatts, this equates to £140,000 per year or £3.5 million over 25 years.
"In addition, we are also exploring opportunities for the local community to acquire a direct stake of up to five per cent in the project, potentially providing a further significant dividend for local residents," it said.