Inquest to decide fate of controversial Perthshire windfarm

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An artists impression of the Dulater scheme.

Scottish ministers have called a public inquiry to determine the fate of a giant Perthshire windfarm.

An inquest into the highly controversial Dulater Hill project will be held in Birnam at the end of March.

The scheme involves the installation of 17 turbines — each twice the height of the Scott Monument — across an area of land the size of 16 football pitches.

Developers say the scheme, north of the A923 near Butterstone, will dramatically slash carbon emissions and help reach crucial green energy targets.

But the plan is up against strong opposition from residents and local organisations. Perth and Kinross Council has also lodged a formal objection.

It is argued that the turbines would have a negative impact on tourism and the local economy. Opponents say there is already an overabundance of turbines in the area with more than 100 already in place and around 160 proposed.

Ecotricity, which is spearheading the development, says that it will create construction jobs and boost the community by £285,000 a year.

The Lunan Valley Protection Group, which was set up to fight the proposal, will be representing local objectors at the meeting.

A spokesman said: “Our arguments, which have now been submitted, are mainly around the visual impact of having these turbines on the skyline and the cumulative visual impact with the other wind farms in the area.

“We are not against wind power per se, but we do think these massive turbines are inappropriate for the proposed site.

“And if this site was approved there is the risk, seen elsewhere, of further wind farms being approved locally, creating a cluster that would have a massive cumulative visual impact.”

He said there was also safety concerns about construction materials and turbine parts being transported along the A923.

“Historically very wide loads on narrow roads can slide off the verge,” he said.

“If oil or other pollutants got into the five lochs system that could present a real threat to a rare and sensitive ecosystem.”

An Ecotricity spokesman has said that, if approved, “the Dulater Hill wind park would help us take another big step in reducing the national carbon footprint, creating enough clean energy to power nearly 30,000 homes and saving more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.”

He added: “We’ve done extensive environmental and ecological assessments as part of the planning process and we’re very confident the site is an appropriate place for a wind park of this size.”

Councillors had earlier refused to back the project, claiming it would lead to “unacceptable adverse visual impacts” which would “erode the experience from popular viewpoints within the River Tay National Scenic Area”.

The inquiry is due to begin at the Birnam Institute Arts and Conference Centre from 1pm on Tuesday, March 28. It is expected to run until Friday, April 3.

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