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. 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. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Proposed Lairg wind farm moves step closer as Highland Councillors say yes

The proposed Lairg wind farm sits close to Ben Kilbreck-Armine wild lands. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
The proposed Lairg wind farm sits close to Ben Kilbreck-Armine wild lands. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Highland Councillors have given their support to a Sutherland wind farm.

Chleansaid wind farm attracted objections from NatureScot, Mountaineering Scotland and two community councils.

However, Highland Council’s north planning committee have concluded that the benefits of the development outweigh the challenges.

ESB Asset Development UK Limited wants to build a 16-turbine wind farm in Dalnessie, Lairg.

As a major national development, the application comes under the scope of the Electricity Act rather than Highland Council directly. The council is invited to comment as a consultee.

Debating the Lairg wind farm plan, councillors agreed not to make any formal objection to the Scottish Government.

NatureScot seeks to protect northern wild lands

Both councillors and planning officers grappled with the particular location of this proposed wind farm.

The site itself doesn’t sit within any national conservation areas. However, it’s in very close proximity to some of the most unspoilt landscapes in Scotland.

If approved, the wind farm will lie within six miles of three different wild lands, Caithness and Sutherland peatlands, and several moors, lochs and rivers with special environmental protections.

Caithness and Sutherland peatlands is currently in the running to be granted World Heritage Site status.

The Flow Country in Caithness and Sutherland is bidding for World Heritage status.

And adjoining the site boundary is hillwalkers’ favourite, Ben Klibreck.

The sensitive nature of the landscape attracted several objections. Most influential is that of NatureScot. They said the Lairg wind farm would have significant effects on the Ben Klibreck-Armine Forest wild land area.

Mountaineering Scotland objected on the same grounds, adding that the wind farm would negatively impact the landscape and scenery. It said wind farms are encircling the hills, making them less attractive to hillwalkers and tourists.

However, in a 106-page report, Highland Council planners outlined that many of these concerns could be mitigated by imposing certain conditions on the application.

During debate, they reminded members that this is a national – and not a local – planning application. As such, councillors needed to consider the positive contribution to national climate change targets.

If the application was going to Highland Council, the committee would place considerable weight on an objection from NatureScot.

However, in this case the council is just another consultee. Overall, planners felt the economic and environmental benefits nationally, outweighed the local sensitivities.

Many local groups in support

That’s not to say it was a national versus local planning debate. Rogart and Golspie community councils both objected to the plan because of concerns about construction traffic, and a perception that Highland has already done its bit in meeting national renewables targets.

Highland Council will not object to the Lairg wind farm application. Image: Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson

However, Lairg community council offered their support. They said the wind farm could positively benefit the local economy and the drive towards net zero.

Sutherland councillor Marianne Hutchison also said she had received several statements in support of the development. She said the wind farm is a “significant positive in an energy and climate change crisis”.

Councillor Margaret Paterson agreed – “this one’s in the right place” – while council leader Raymond Bremner commended planners on weighing up the evidence carefully.

Mr Bremner said their conclusion – that the council should raise no objection – is the right one.

Serious concerns noted on Lairg wind farm

Some members did note their dissent from the positive response of the committee.

Caithness councillor Matthew Reiss was concerned that the wind farm could impact on the bid for World Heritage designation for the peatlands. He highlighted that this was a significant development in a “pristine environment” and if NatureScot objects, “we should pay attention”.

In response, planning officers stated that the wind farm lies outside of the bid area for World Heritage Site.

Sutherland councillor Richard Gale also expressed reservations. He asked if previous wind farms in the area have set a “precedent”, adding: “I have serious concerns about the continued proliferation of wind farms in this part of Sutherland.”

However, Mr Gale stopped short of bringing an amendment, since the majority view of the committee was clear.

Members agreed to raise no objection, and the Lairg wind farm application will go back to the Scottish Government for consideration.

Are you interested in more exclusive and breaking Highland and Islands news from the P&J? If so, why not join our dedicated Facebook page HERE