Communities pledge on windfarms

Dan Luscombe (left) and Cliff Green of campaign group Stag.

An SNP politician has insisted that communities are heard in controversial windfarm debates.

Critics of the technology and the Scottish Government’s policy promoting it remain to be convinced.

But MSP Kate Forbes has insisted she will fight to ensure public opinion shapes the decision making process.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP was speaking after a packed public meeting in Drumnadrochit this week to discuss plans by French firm EDF and Force 9 Energy for the 13-turbine Cnoc an Eas scheme west of the village and on the north side of Glen Urquhart above Loch Meiklie.

“My primary concern when it comes to windfarm developments,” she said, “is that those who live and work in the surrounding areas are involved and have a say. Local communities should be listened to at every stage.”

The developers claim the project will bring jobs and investment to the Highlands. Opponents say it would create few jobs, be an eyesore and endanger wildlife.

Four community councils – Glen Urquhart, Strathglass, Kiltarlity and Kilmorack – have all objected.

Cliff Green of opposition group Stop Turbines at Glenurquhart which organised the public meeting, said: “The planning system is stacked in favour of developers who often have years to prepare a planning application with significantly more resources than residents, who then only have a matter of weeks to respond.

“Where there’s overwhelming community opposition to a proposed windfarm there should be an effective community veto, as there is in England.”

Andrew Smith of Force 9 Energy said: “We undertook a comprehensive consultation with the local community and statutory bodies and made some changes to the final design of the windfarm as a result.”

The Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division has yet to allocate a reporter for a public inquiry into the proposed development.