Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Councillors left furious as Scottish Government approves Strathrory wind farm in Alness

The Scottish Government has granted permission for Strathrory wind farm at Ardross, Alness. Picture by Sandy McCook.
The Scottish Government has granted permission for Strathrory wind farm at Ardross, Alness. Picture by Sandy McCook.

The Scottish Government reporter has overturned Highland Council’s refusal of a wind farm planning application, despite widespread local opposition.

The north planning committee also learned today that operators Energiekontor have already said they want to increase the height of the wind turbine tips.

Chairwoman Maxine Morley-Smith branded the developers “sneaky” and “greedy”, warning that locals will be very unhappy with the Scottish Government decision.

‘A difference of opinion’

Strathrory wind farm in Ardross, Alness, was rejected by councillors last June.

Proposals for the seven-turbine wind farm attracted more than 50 objections from the local community.

The main issue under debate was the visual impact of the development on the area, which already has five wind farms.

In a motion tabled by Ms Morley-Smith, the council argued that the development would have a significant detrimental visual impact, contrary to Policy 67 of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan. The motion won by nine votes to three.

However, the Scottish Government has upheld an appeal from Energiekontor, and granted planning permission.

Maxine Morley-Smith is chairwoman of the north planning committee. Picture by Sandy McCook/DCT

In a letter to the council on January 9, 2022, reporter Keith Bray wrote: “At the heart of this appeal is a difference of opinion on the acceptability of the landscape and visual impacts.”

Mr Bray says he made a site visit and believes the ‘simple but large scale’ landscape would not be overwhelmed by large wind turbines.

He concludes that the landscape is “influenced” but not “dominated” by wind farms.

Are local voices heard?

Now, council planners say Energiekontor has already made plans to vary its application.

Last week, the operator served notice that it will apply for a modification to allow larger blade tip heights.

They say this change is due to lower than expected wind speeds on site.

“The developers are already coming back and asking for more,” said Ms Morley-Smith.

“It’s pure greed. It’s very sad to see a development going down this route, which people will find sneaky. I don’t like it.”

Caithness councillor Donnie Mackay shared her view. “Now you understand what I’ve been shouting about for a long time,” he said, referring to wind farm applications in Caithness. “They get round it in a different way and I don’t think it’s right.”

SNP councillor Raymond Bremner said the committee listened to community voices and made a “robust” argument to the Scottish Government.

The reporter, however, applied the letter of the law. “This is beyond politics,” he added.

Ms Morley-Smith concluded: “What’s the point of having a local planning committee at all? We may as well just ask the Scottish Government.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]