Article Republished By Javier Troconis
The shocking North Planning Applications Committee meeting of April 26 granted a wind farm on designated wildland at Sallachy, despite many concerning objections from highly reputable organisations such as NatureScot, Mountaineering Scotland, the John Muir Trust, and SSE Renewables. These were either casually dismissed or ignored, writes Craig McQueenie.
Watching the meeting live, I was horrified at the lack of debate or due consideration, other than a nod to Rogart Community Council’s objection to the massive 560 per cent increase in HGV traffic which will result from this development.
This proposal was previously approved by Highland Council but rejected by Scottish Ministers, and has now been resubmitted at just 0.1mw below the threshold required for Scottish Ministers. The nine gigantic, 500ft turbines – each the height of a 38-storey building – are to go on low sloping hills by Loch Shin.
Wind energy is hugely inefficient and needs to be supplemented by non-renewable fossil fuels. They take up vast areas of natural scenic beauty and only return approximately four per cent of our energy in the UK.
Ignored by the planning committee, I wish to highlight the unfeasibility of the roadways – I measured the A838 road myself and it is over a metre short of the requirement for HGVs for wind turbines. This historic road and bridges will need to be widened/strengthened considerably more than reported, where there is little room for widening.
Also, SSE Renewables received no consultation from the developer nor any request to use existing assets nor infrastructure, including access roads, which SSE own! SSE objected due to the potential impact upon the safe operation of the “significant system of interconnected hydro assets” in close proximity to the proposed development.
It is no wonder that England is literally laughing at Scotland. On national TV “Have I Got News for You” recently, wind farms were mentioned and how the English are “breathing a sigh of relief” as they are nearly all going to be developed in Scotland.
Where was the necessary intelligent scrutiny in light of all of this?
‘Cursory debate’ over Sallachy
Having watched live the North Planning Application Committee meeting of April 26, during which planning permission was granted for a wind farm at Sallachy, I am questioning why I submitted an objection, as objections were minimally referred to and appeared to be given little consideration, writes Alice Clutterbuck.
The previous application, thrown out by Scottish Ministers in 2015 – deemed unsuitable for this wildland area – was “cut, pasted and moulded” into shape, resubmitted and approved by councillors in approximately 45 minutes with cursory debate.
The presentation, that could easily have been made by a WKN salesman, was applauded and rubber-stamped. Sadly, the amended turbine height conveniently circumvents the rule automatically referring the decision back to Scottish Ministers.
The limited debate questioned NatureScot’s clear objections about the infringement of the national scenic and wildland designations with the chairman saying: “Are they taking into account all of the other planning like reasons or do they (NS) primarily just object on their sort of set of criteria because I do kind of wonder when we get an objection from left-field from NS.”
NatureScot is a nationally recognised body and key consultee in these cases for the Government and it is concerning how its thorough and crucial objection was so superficially addressed.
Additionally, Rogart’s objection to the massive increase in transport difficulties within this proposal, was barely considered.
The planning officer’s noting that support letters were largely generic and pre-printed was not addressed. On the contrary, there was a happy declaration that there was a lot of local support, belying the fact that there is little support where the actual turbines will be placed.
The only glimmer of hope was a third-party request, to call in the decision to the Scottish Ministers. Let’s hope that they have accepted and will at least give this a fairer hearing.