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SSE seeks planning permission for a new wind farm in Fort Augustus

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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SSE want to create a new wind farm at Fort Augustus.
SSE want to create a new wind farm at Fort Augustus.

Power giant SSE wants to build a new wind farm in Fort Augustus

The Cloiche wind farm would comprise 29 turbines with heights of up to 149.9 metres beside the existing Stronelairg development.

However, the planning application has divided opinion. Local community councils have expressed concern but stopped short of raising a formal objection.

But the Cairngorms National Park have objected, along with the John Muir Trust and Mountaineering Scotland.

As a Section 36 application, the final decision doesn’t rest with Highland Council. Ultimately, the fate of the development lies with Scottish ministers.

The application is on the agenda for south planning committee on 3 May, but council planners have recommended that the council does not object.

SSE’s application is for a wind farm with installed capacity of 124.7 megawatts, along with seven borrow pits, 21km of new access tracks, nine watercourse crossings and a substation.

Cloiche wind farm would use much of the infrastructure from the neighbouring Stronelairg site and Glendoe hydro electric scheme.

SSE had originally planned on 36 turbines up to 175 metres tall, but amended the designs based on local feedback.

The proposed cloiche wind farm would sit on open moorland, but SSE’s application includes 50 metres of micro-siting to avoid deep peatland.

Nevertheless, the application has sparked concern from environmental groups. The John Muir Trust has objected based on the landscape and wild land impacts of the development. The trust also says offsite peatland restoration does not make up for the destruction of blanket bog.

The Cairngorms National Park and Mountaineering Scotland have objected too, saying the new wind farm would have a significant effect on special landscape qualities and tourism.

However, the three local community councils have not raised any objection. They are concerned about the visual impact but have asked for a community liaison group and transport management plan.

In its report for councillors, Highland Council planners accept there are visual impacts to the wind farm, but they don’t believe these are unacceptable. Instead, they say the wind farm will positively contribute towards the expansion of renewable energy.

The council's south planning committee will decide today whether to go with officers’ advice, or raise a formal objection to the Scottish Government.

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