Fear that north windfarm proposals could give “green light” for more turbines

Councillors agreed to ratify the decision to refuse the scheme

Residents in a north community fear plans for a 22-turbine windfarm could pave the way for more green energy projects if they are approved.

E.ON Climate and Renewables UK Developments Ltd wants to site the devices – which would be up to 427ft tall – at Golticlay two-and-a-half miles north of Lybster.

And locals are worried the Rumster Forest – a popular spot for walkers and cyclists – is under threat.

Forestry Commission Scotland has agreed to provide the land for the development.

Residents had the chance to inspect the plans at a public consultation held at Lybster Community Centre.

The original proposal was for 47 turbines, but the scheme was scaled-down to 22.

Resident John Robson, of Newlands of Smerlie, Lybster, said: “My fear is that this is only the beginning. They have sliced it down to 22 turbines for the moment but there’s no reason to stop there.

“If they get that, that will be the ground laid for the rest of Rumster Forest area to the north and east of Achivanich Road. We could actually be ringed by them.

“The whole thing is too close to a lot of habitation and if we have a ring of them it makes it more likely they are going to kill birds, particularly large predatory and migratory birds.

“The community is being offered up to £5,000 a MW per year. This windfarm is 79MW. If the money generated from the windfarm was going to create solid jobs that would be fantastic because Caithness is short, but that never seems to happen. What would the money be used for in Lybster?”

Lybster resident Gordon Newson said: “It’s right on the edge of the Flow Country and it’s supposed to be the largest undisturbed wetland in all Europe, possibly the world. They are going to be encroaching nearer to that.

“The exhibition was really playing to the gallery. They were doing what they had to do and it was really just a token gesture and nothing more than.”

E-ON project developer, Vicki Harrison, has previously said the consultation sessions were to “update the local community about plans while giving them the opportunity to share their views, ask questions and comment on out proposed turbine layout for the site”.

No one at the company was available to comment yesterday.