View Full Version : New windfarm sparks controversy

24-Mar-11, 17:33
New windfarm, a 'monstrous intrusion' or an important cog in Scotland's energy targets

THE latest wind energy development to be considered by Highland councillors, south-west of Wick, has generated another clash between those that want it and others that don’t.
The objectors, numbering 148, say that the nine-turbine windfarm at Burn of Whilk, their opposition is based on the grounds that it would represent “a monstrous intrusion into one of the finest untouched ritual landscapes in northern Europe.”
Other fears are that development would impact adversely on the amenity of nearby householders and health, from low level sound wave and flicker; the noise of the turbines would detract from the tranquillity and scenic beauty of the area and affect archaeology and monuments and wildlife, including protected species.
Advocates of the windfarm have countered, with arguments about the need to address climate change concerns and secure a clean energy supply; it’s a project that will significantly help to meet government renewable energy targets and will help to sustain local families and businesses and there would be environmental benefits through the restoration of peatlands.
Two of the community councils in the area, Tannach and District Community Council and Latheron, Lybster and Clyth Community Council have not lodged objections However their Berriedale and Dunbeath Community Council has adopted a neutral stance.
The Forestry Commission has pointed out that the development, which is situated 10 miles south-west of Wick and extends about 1.5m northwest to southeast and is about 1.5m wide, will result in the permanent removal of approximately 164ha of commercial forestry and a further 270ha will be felled and restocked, partly on the site and on adjoining FC land.
The Commissions North Highland forestry officer has sounded a more widely-based warning about encroaching on plantations. He expressed concern that the cumulative effect of applications for windfarms in forested land, will result in a substantial loss of commercial woodland, particularly in Caithness and North Sutherland.
He continued: “A substantial amount of public money has been invested in planting and establishing these trees which are not far off marketable size” and he added that he would not support any proposals to fell the area to waste, which would be an expensive operation generating no income from nearly 25 years of investment.
The officer added that habitat management plan must provide a detailed specification for restoration proposals.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said it would be willing to withdraw its objection if conditions aimed at preserving the breeding season and the habitat of birds was applied to any planning permissions granted
Recommending approval, with conditions, planning officers say that the Caithness Local Plan recognises the interest in renewable energy projects in the county. If granted, the windfarm, which has a potential to generate 27 mw of electricity, would make a significant contribution towards helping the Scottish Government meet its target of accounting for 80 per cent of Scotland’s electricity consumption by 2020. Officials state that the enterprise would have no direct impact on any scheduled ancient monuments and argue that the benefits of the proposal “must be weighed against potential drawback and then be considered in the round”.
Councillors will consider the development at a special meeting of the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Planning Applications Committee at Wick Assembly Rooms, at 12.30pm on March 29.
The meeting will be preceded by a site visit.