Highland councillors gave the Scottish Government a strong indication last night that it should reject a windfarm developer’s proposals for six giant turbines on the edge of a spectacular national nature reserve.
After a site visit, councillors unanimously backed three community councils who oppose the Beinn Mhor scheme planned for Tomich in Strathglass.
Local councillor Margaret Davidson convinced colleagues the potential impact of closures on the only access route for construction traffic through the tiny village – close to Glen Affric – would be too damaging for local businesses which are predominantly tourism-based.
The landowner suggested later that the council could miss a rare opportunity to have a private enterprise finance badly needed road repairs.
The planning application is the subject of an appeal on the grounds of the council’s previous “non determination”. Bad weather twice forced the cancellation of site visits.
A resulting appeal means the final decision is now out of councillors’ hands and a Scottish Government-appointed reporter is expected to rule on the application in May.
Yesterday, the council’s south planning committee finally debated the turbines, which would stand up to 392ft tall on a seven-acre site – close to several Special Protection Areas, special areas of conservation and sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Strathglass, Glenurquhart and Kilmorack community councils objected on grounds including visual blight and the potentially negative impact on tourism and wildlife.
Mrs Davidson said last night: “We have really pointed out to the reporter that when you’ve got a tiny single-track road and that is the only access the prospect of 40 weeks of construction work and widening of the road would have an unacceptable impact on the village.”
Tomich tourism operator Jenny Stirling, said: “I’m very relieved, but it’s a shame they’ve by-passed the council in the overall decision making.
“All we can do now is hope the reporter will listen to what the local people want.”
A total of 1,252 objections were registered, with 181 letters of support.