Inquiry underway into revised Highland wind farm plan

A second appeal over Druim Ba is underway.

A landscape architect insisted yesterday that wind turbines up to 414ft tall barely a mile from Highland homes would not be “overbearing or dominant” in the countryside.

He was speaking at the start of a five-day appeal by a French developer snubbed for a second time by Highland Council planners.

Druim Ba Sustainable Energy Ltd returned with a 10-turbine plan for a site by Blairmore Farm, Kiltarlity, after losing a previous public inquiry into a 23-tower proposal.

The fresh appeal follows Highland Council’s failure to make a decision about the revised proposal within a four-month time limit.

The initial hearing prompted one of the most vociferous campaigns yet mounted against a Highland windfarm planning application. The latest appeal began by focusing on “landscape and visual impact.”

Opening witness at the inquiry, before a sparse public audience in Kiltarlity village hall, was landscape architect Marc van Grieken of MVGLA Ltd, who appeared for the developer.

He emphasised that the revised plan would mean turbines being built a minimum of 1,800 yards from the nearest house – almost twice the distance previously indicated.

Mr van Grieken said: “The potential visual effects experienced from local residential properties is not so great that they would be reasonably and commonly described as overbearing, oppressive or dominant when considering the visual component of residential amenity.”

He also raised eyebrows on the public benches among campaigners, stating that “there are people who positively like the view of windfarms”.

In a written submission, the council’s principal planner Ken McCorquodale concludes that “the visual impact of this development would be particularly significant and, in my mind, detrimental to receptors living, working and passing through this area.”

The hearing resumes today (THURS) and continues tomorrow and next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Scottish Government reporter Robert Seaton, who is chairing the event, also chaired last week’s inquiry into the proposed Culachy wind scheme at Fort Augustus. He said yesterday that he hoped to submit his recommendations on that appeal to ministers in July.