Published: 15/01/2013 09:58 - Updated: 15/01/2013 11:59

Loch Ness community voices fears over wind farms

Written byBy Val Sweeney

The prospect of more wind turbines is causing concern for a Loch Ness community.
The prospect of more wind turbines is causing concern for a Loch Ness community.

A community close to Loch Ness fears it will be surrounded by wind farms following a string of planning applications.

Community leaders representing Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston are demanding a study be carried out to assess the cumulative impact of existing and proposed projects.

The calls came as plans were unveiled for a 36-turbine development to the north-west of Fort Augustus.

German-based E.ON is holding public information sessions next week for its proposed Moriston Wind Farm while a decision is imminent from the Scottish government on Scottish and Southern Energy’s controversial 36-turbine Bhlaraidh project in Glenmoriston.

Kenny Knott, chairman of Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Council, said the area was already feeling the impact of renewables projects, including five existing or proposed wind farms as well as hydro electricity schemes such as the massive Glendoe development.

He said: "The community council has debated each of these projects in turn and there is increased concern that the cumulative impact has never been taken into account.

"Every single one in their own right may be a sensible or reasonable proposal and we are not necessarily against them, but when you put them all together in the community we have got, we have been suffering the renewable energy impact since 2002."

Given its concerns over the cumulative impact, the community council is opposed to plans by E.ON to place three wind monitoring masts at the planned Moriston site.

Fears have also been voiced about the risk to residents’ safety as abnormal loads for successive energy projects are transported to the sites via the A82.

Mr Knott cited recent logistical exercises to transport giant transformers to the nearby sub-station for the Beauly-Denny line which is being upgraded to carry energy generated in the north to markets in the south.

The community council has now asked for a meeting with Highland Council planning officials.

Mr Knott added: "All these renewable energy projects take up between 75 per cent and 80 per cent of community council business because of the concerns."

Emma Clark, senior project developer at E.ON, said Forestry Commission Scotland had awarded the company the exclusive rights to explore the potential for new wind energy projects producing more than 5MW of energy in the Highlands.

"We believe the Moriston site is a good place for a wind farm due to the proximity to infrastructure such as roads and the local power network," she said.

"We’re an experienced and responsible developer and will ensure that the local community have their views considered throughout the development of the windfarm."

* Public information sessions on the proposed Moriston Wind Farm will be held at the Fort Augustus Memorial Hall, Canal Bank, on Tuesday 22nd January between 2pm and 8pm and at Glengarry Community Hall, Invergarry, on Wednesday 23rd January, between 2pm and 8pm.

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