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Kintradwell Windfarm developers refute ‘lack of consultation’ claim

The secretary of Brora Community Council has claimed that power company RES have used Covid as an excuse not to consult with the public over the planned Kintradwell Windfarm.

Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera told fellow community councillors at their meeting last week: “There are many ways they (RES) could have done a public consultation without contaminating anyone. They chose not to. There has not been a real public consultation.”

RES is seeking planning consent to erect 15 turbines, measuring 149.9 metres to tip, on a site at Kintradwell Estate, some 1.7 miles south east of the existing Gordonbush Windfarm.

The company’s application has been lodged with the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit as required for wind farms with a generating capacity in excess of 50mw.

However, Highland Council is a statutory consultee and has to decided by a deadline of December 14 whether to support or object to it.

So far 205 objections and 38 support comments have been lodged on the authority’s eplanning site.

Opponents say that because the turbines are to be sited on a high elevation, they will “completely overshadow” Brora and the surrounding area.

RES, which has denied any lack of consultation, is supporting an apprenticeship locally and has signed an agreement with Brora based Edward Mackay Contractor Ltd, giving them right of first offer of construction work should the development go ahead.

At Tuesday’s meeting members discussed new information and visuals provided by RES on the request of Highland Council.

Mr Uduwerage-Perera said: “Basically, it has not really changed. The skyline is still going to be bristling with turbines.”

His colleague Diana Royce said: “All this proves is what we all know and that is you are going to see turbines all the way along the beach and golf course and as you move to the south nearer Brora, you will see more and more turbines.”

She added that RES had now provided a view from the Dornoch bridge and that the windfarm would be “very prominent” looking north from there.

“That just confirms what we thought about widespread visual impact across the whole coast,” she said.

Members also discussed RES’s intention to increase its habitat management area.

Ms Royce said the move was to try and compensate for the loss of peat and also the likely loss of eagle territories.

A spokesman for RES said the firm had undertaken extensive consultation including a public exhibition in 2019 after which design changes were made. Project newsletters were distributed locally and written responses made to queries.

“Whilst unable to meet with people face-to-face due to Covid, RES continued to speak and write to residents and key stakeholders,” he said.

He confirmed that new visuals and additional information were produced following feedback from the local authority.

“While a full suite of update visualisations was provided in the additional information submitted in August 2021, the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and its conclusions presented in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, remain unchanged,” he said.

Regarding habitat management, the spokesman continued: “Statutory consultees NatureScot and SEPA responded without objection to the original information submitted, although NatureScot requested that the proposed area for peatland restoration (48 ha) was doubled.

“RES took this advice on board and, upon further investigation and liaison with the estate, has gone beyond this recommendation, proposing over 130ha of habitat management in addition to the areas dedicated towards improving eagle foraging.

“The habitat management proposed goes beyond simply compensating for loss of peat, providing a significant positive effect on peatland. Furthermore, the carbon payback will be less than oneyear, meaning the wind farm will generate carbon free electricity for its lifetime following its first year of operation, a significant positive effect towards helping tackle climate change and achieving Scotland’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2045.”

Article originally posted on The Northern Times.

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