Strathrory wind farm offer near Ardross rejected as Ross-shire advisers overturn officials’ recommendation
Dozens of objections from residents and a community council saw a Â£ 44million wind farm project in Ardross rejected by the Highland Council, overturning officials’ recommendation.
The Northern Development Requests Committee was influenced by more than 50 objections to the Strathrory wind farm project by the German company EnergieKontor UK Ltd.
The plan was to build seven turbines with a blade tip height of nearly 150 meters that would operate for a period of 35 years. At the same time, there would have been access tracks, borrow pits, a substation and a control building as well as other auxiliary infrastructure.
EnergieKontor calculated that only 12% of the Â£ 44million budget would be invested in the Highlands and create between 35 and 54 jobs during construction. The annual O&M costs equate to around Â£ 30million over its operational lifetime, which would be “typically spent locally”.
Changes made during the application process saw the number of wind turbines reduced by one and a blade tip height reduced from 180 meters to just under 150 meters.
But the Ardross community council remained concerned, citing that consultations were held during the Covid crisis, regarding landscape and visual impacts and impacts on the local economy and recreational routes.
The community council also feared damaging environmental changes, including the negative impact of lighting on dark skies and bats; habitat, ecology and ornithology; construction traffic having an impact on cultural heritage property (war memorial).
Their statement said, â€œThe scale of the proposed wind turbines is also of particular concern, as the design of the wind farm does not demonstrate a sensitive session in the opinion of the Community Council.
â€œHe considers that the downscaling of the proposal through the environmental impact assessment and additional environmental impact II did not make any material difference either and some of the positions changed of the turbine aggravated the project.
“He also considers the landscape and visual impacts to have been underestimated, with over-reliance on surrounding commercial forestry for scouting, much of which must be felled during the operational life of the wind farm.”
But committee chair and local councilor Maxine Smith offered to deny the request due to the strong visual impact and local sentiment.
She said there were already dozens of wind turbines near Ardross.
And she said a lot of homes would be impacted by visibility.
She recognized the proximity to local housing, the cumulative impact, the dark sky effect, which the Ardross community council had objected to.
She said: â€œAnd over the weekend I got about 25 emails opposing this for different reasons and some people will be living nearby. So, for all of these reasons, but especially for the impact on the local community of Ardross, I will make a motion to deny this request.
Cllr Derek Macleod said: “I can’t get past the fact that the Ardross Community Council opposed and 53 representations from a small community also opposed. Who actually live there, who are seeing turbines out there day by day.
“So I think there needs to be more emphasis on local sentiment in issues like this, and as others have said, there is a lot of onshore wind generation to make up for the lack of that. -this.”
John Edmonson, secretary of the Ardross Community Council, later said: â€œWe are obviously delighted that the members have listened to the community.
“I haven’t heard anyone at Ardross support this app which is too close and too high when the other five wind farms and 82 wind turbines are taken into account.”
During discussions during the meeting, some expressed irritation that Highland Council officials responsible for making recommendations were not taking residents’ views sufficiently into account in some cases.
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