Many thanks to Wind Energy’s Absurd for this report. A lot of common sense from the Councillors and a lot of absurd comments from the Planning Officer, RES and Inverness Chamber of Commerces’s Stewrat Nichol. One must remember that most wind farm companies are members of the Chamber of Commerce; in fact in many cases platinum partners (ABO and RES) which means they pay extra and get all sorts of privileges including it would seem the CEO as main cheerleader. That the Planning Officer, Simon Hindson, allowed late submissions raised the eyebrows and the odd hackle but then he has proved an enthusiastic, if somewhat under performing, apologist for the wind industry.
STOP PRESS: RES’ ABERARDER WIND FARM REFUSED BY THE HIGHLAND COUNCIL SOUTH PLANNING APPLICATIONS COMMITTEE 6 VOTES TO 3.
What a very interesting meeting.
First of all Major Applications were discussed:
1. Tom nan Clach – we don’t understand the reference to this one. ‘Technical issues’ leading to a reconsultation and appearing at the May Committee meeting. The so-called repowering application was turned down by SPAC in January, so we will have to wait and see what that’s all about.
2. Druim Ba. The planners obviously pulled out all the stops and presented their report to the DPEA – it went off on 18 March.
Margaret Davidson said that the community wanted a PLI on landscape impact as substantial work had been done by the community on this issue. The Planning Manager said that this would really be better as a hearing than a PLI and it was agreed that THC would request a hearing to the DPEA.
To refresh memories, this was an RES application for twelve 130m turbines and associated works. Members of SPAC had a site visit yesterday. Planners had recommended acceptance fundamentally, as we’ve reported before, that because the Dunmaglass wind farm is already consented, Aberarder would form a sort of natural extension.
The meeting heard that from one particular viewpoint it would effectively increase Dunmaglass by 30% which led Cllr Baxter to say that if he were to extend his house by 30% it would not be considered ‘immodest’.
There was quite a bit of discussion about visual and cumulative impact, the increasing height of turbines, and about the state of the roads. The planner said that it was better to put road improvement conditions to consents rather than go the planning gain route (where money is put into a pot, basically) which led Cllr Kerr to later ask ‘where’s the gain for the community of Inverness?’
The planner told the meeting that there had been one late objection and two in support. We will deal with the support, from the Inverness Chamber of Commerce, in a separate post, rather than lengthen this one.
Now we come to the really good bit. Margaret Davidson talked about the impact from the Great Glen Way and on the 20-30K users. She said that last year she had been really uncomfortable with the anti wind farm protestors’ (Loch Ness) video and thought that it was an over statement, with its visuals and music.
However when she saw visuals for Aberarder the words ‘Ring of Steel’ came back to her mind.
She said it was too much and was moving for refusal.
Her motion for refusal, seconded by Donnie Kerr, was carried by 6 votes to 3.
Stop Turbines at Glenurquhart (STAG) have today produced an updated map showing that Ring of Steel