Sutherland windfarm rejected on appeal

Windfarm was proposed for Balnacoil hill
Windfarm was proposed for Balnacoil hill

Plans for a 15-turbine windfarm in Sutherland have been rejected by the Scottish Government.

Edinburgh-based developer Vento Ludens Ltd had lodged proposals for 396ft masts at Balnacoil Lodge, north-west of Brora.

But yesterday government reporter Robert Maslin rejected the scheme, saying that the turbines would have a “significant adverse effect” on the Strath Brora area.

He also highlighted an objection from Historic Scotland, which raised concern about the impact on a nearby broch.

Mr Maslin said that on a three-day site visit, he found that Iron Age Caisteal na Coillie was seldom visited by the public.

However, he said that Historic Scotland’s concerns about the building, which sits on a steep, rocky knoll above the River Brora, were reasonable.

The scheme had already been blocked by Highland Council officials, without being discussed by councillors.

Brora Community Council was among the local objectors to the plans.

Secretary, Lee Bright, said: “I think in general people will be delighted about this.

“There has been a lot of local concern about windfarms and there were quite a few disadvantages to this one in particular so it’s good news.

“There was quite a lot of discussion about the noise especially.

“There are other windfarms there already and people who live near them have talked about a grinding noise which comes from them.”

German-owned Vento Ludens had said that the development would generate about 45MW of electricity.

It argued that the windfarm would be within an area zoned for similar developments by the local authority.

However, Mr Maslin said: “There are no material considerations which would justify granting planning permission.

“I have considered the matters raised. None leads me to alter my conclusions.”

Mike Kelly, head of development at Vento Ludens, said: “We are, of course, very disappointed by the Scottish Government’s decision to dismiss the appeal for the development proposed.

“We have worked hard over the past few years on the Balnacoil proposal and we feel that this site is appropriate for a windfarm development.”

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