The debate is heating up between two groups battling for public votes on the eve of a ballot on plans for a windfarm on the Black Isle.
The 6.9MW capacity scheme proposed by Black Isle Community Energy (BICE), would have three 328ft high towers in Millbuie Forest near Mount Eagle if successful.
The ballot opens tomorrow and votes will be counted by March 12, but even if there is a Yes vote the application has still to go through the planning process and could be refused.
Campaign group No Black Isle Windfarm claims that BICE is attempting to scare people into voting Yes and that if the vote goes that way, the door will be open to commercial developments.
David Fraser of No Black Isle Windfarm said: “BICE are trying to scare people into voting Yes by saying that a commercial developer will step in if they don’t. But we believe the opposite is true – this is the thin end of a wedge and only a No vote can deter commercial developers. The ballot is the critical point – if there is a Yes vote it will be an open door to development.
“This vote matters. It is the only chance that the community as a whole has to put a stop to this industrial-scale development along the spine of the Black Isle. BICE have been very clear – there will be no further vote. Decisions about the size, scale and location of the windfarm will be for others to decide.”
Martin Sherring of BICE said: “This is the most outrageous slant on a community group you could possibly imagine because essentially this is all about giving control to the community, not taking it away, so the idea that this will be removed after the ballot is blatant scaremongering.
“If the ballot is positive the next step is to form a new community trust which will have membership open to anyone and that will take the project forward. Those who don’t want to join the trust will still have an opportunity to comment at the planning stage.”
No Black Isle Windfarm has previously criticised BICE for using overestimated windspeeds in their financial projections for the scheme. BICE claims the windfarm will bring £500,000 per year to the community.
Concerns have also been raised about the turbines impacting nearby red kite, osprey, capercaillie and Scottish wildcat populations.