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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Highland wind farm wins backing
Wind turbine
The size of the wind farm has been reduced
A controversial wind farm development in the Highlands has been given the go-ahead at the third time of asking.

The 20m scheme for the hills above the Dornoch Firth sparked a number of objections and concerns about its impact on a National Scenic Area (NSA).

It was backed by Highland Council after the applicant, CRE Energy, a subsidiary of ScottishPower, reduced the number of wind turbines to 17.

Opponents said that they were bitterly disappointed at the decision.

The turbines will be built on land north east of the summit of Beinn Tharsuinn, near Ardross.

'Unspoilt landscape'

The site is near the Dornoch Firth NSA, which has the highest environmental designation below a national park.

Opponents include John Campbell, the QC for the Fraser Inquiry into the Holyrood building project, who has a holiday home in the area.

He argued that the changes to the number and position of the turbines had done "very little to lessen the serious impact on the character of the unspoilt landscape from one end of the Dornoch Firth to another".

John Campbell QC
It is barrel-scraping nonsense to even suggest to members that this proposal will bring 'benefit' to the Dornoch Firth
John Campbell QC
He warned that if the scheme went ahead then wind farms could soon be sprouting in the Cuillins and the Cairngorms.

"Quite rightly, our children and grandchildren will ask what we were thinking about, and consider that we were deluded in exchanging that which nature gave us for a power installation that would not even light up Bonar Bridge," he wrote in his letter of objection.

"All the money generated will leave the area or remain in the hands of the landlords.

"What does that do for the affected communities, of which the principal one is Bonar Bridge, scraping by on tourist activity?

"I suggest that it is barrel-scraping nonsense to even suggest to members that this proposal will bring 'benefit' to the Dornoch Firth, or even to Highland Council's area. And that is because there is none to be had."

However, CRE Energy said it had made "significant amendments" to its proposals to minimise the views of the wind farm from Bonar Bridge and Little Creich.

All the turbines had been moved from the tops of Beinn nan Oighrean and Meall a Bhreacain to be clustered between Beinn nan Oighrean and Meall Meadhonach.

One of the effects of the changes proposed has been to significantly reduce the projected turbine yield
CRE Energy statement
The firm acknowledged that the earlier changes made to the application, which specified 20 turbines when it was lodged in April 2002, had not addressed objectors' concerns about views from the north.

"It is believed that these concerns have now been properly dealt with," it said in a statement to the council.

"These amendments have not come without some cost to CRE Energy as one of the effects of the changes proposed has been to significantly reduce the projected turbine yield (electricity generated per year)."

Planners accepted that the turbines would now be situated away from the hilltops, cutting the visual intrusion.

They recommended that councillors approve the application, which they did without a vote.




SEE ALSO:
Setback for test wind farm plan
21 Jun 04  |  Scotland
'Largest' wind farm plans passed
23 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Call to keep wind farms in check
12 Dec 03  |  Scotland
Public backing for green power
24 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Q&A: Wind and wave power
12 Nov 01  |  UK News


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