Home   News   Article

HIGHLAND COUNCIL: ‘Somebody somewhere needs to start listening’ – councillors concerned but won’t block Fort Augustus wind farm

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
The Scottish Government will now rule on the wind farm application.
The Scottish Government will now rule on the wind farm application.

Highland Council’s south planning committee has agreed not to raise an objection to a proposed wind farm in Fort Augustus.

Power giant SSE is seeking planning permission for Cloiche wind farm, which would sit beside the existing Stronelairg site.

If consented, the wind farm could power 11,000 homes from its 29 turbines.

As a Section 36 application under the Electricity Act, the final decision rests with Scottish ministers. However, Highland Council moved it a step forward today by agreeing not to object to the scheme.

This is despite councillors expressing concern about the “derisory” amount of money flowing back to local communities.

SSE’s planning application is for 29 wind turbines at a height of 149.9 metres, on open moorland south east of Fort Augustus.

The proposed wind farm would use much of the infrastructure from the neighbouring Stronelairg, including borrow pits and access tracks.

SSE worked with Highland Council planners to adjust its plans, and followed the council’s advice to reduce both the number and height of the turbines on site.

However, the application still attracted some controversy. The Cairngorm National Park objected on the grounds of visual impact, as did the John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Scotland.

But three local community councils stopped short of objecting. They did however share local concerns over the impact of the Fort Augustus wind farm, including damage to the roads.

Community benefit is a key issue, with Statherrick and Foyers community council pushing for a community liaison group.

This was a theme also picked up by local members. Currently, renewable energy companies pay community benefit of £5000 per installed megawatt per annum.

Councillor Chris Ballance called this amount “derisory”, while several councillors said the Scottish Government needs to review the figure.

Cllr Ballance said only when communities own a share of the wind farm will the benefits “get real”. The south planning committee also called for a more joined up approach in understanding the cumulative impact of wind farm developments and being more strategic in sharing the financial rewards.

“Somebody somewhere needs to start listening,” chairman Thomas MacLennan said, adding: “There’s clearly a lot of frustration.”

Despite their concerns, the committee agreed with council planners that the benefits of the wind farm outweigh the visual impact.

The committee agreed to raise no objection, and Cloiche wind farm will now go to the Scottish Government for consideration.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More