Bid to rescue wind farm plan after opposition from Gleneagles Hotel

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Developers have mounted a bid to rescue a highly controversial wind farm plan.

The nine-turbine project at Greenacres, between Comrie and Braco, was rejected by councillors in April.

More than 400 people and organisations, including the Gleneagles Hotel, had called for the scheme to be scrapped, arguing that it could hurt tourism and have a negative visual impact.

There were also concerns about an Ardoch Roman fort less than two miles from the turbines.

Now Green Cat Renewables has appealed to Scottish ministers, urging them to reverse the council’s decision.

In paperwork lodged with the government’s appeals division, the company argues that the nine-turbine scheme is more acceptable that a similar four-turbine plan for the same site which was refused in 2010.

A spokesman said: “A larger scheme would create a similar level of landscape and visual impact as the previous four-turbine proposal, while making a regionally significant renewable energy contribution.

“Unacceptable cumulative impact when considered alongside other schemes in the region has been addressed by having larger numbers of turbines in the layout.”

He added: “It is evident from many of the public representations, many of which used a standard proforma, that there has been a wide lack of appreciation of how a nine turbine development could be considered acceptable when a smaller scheme was previously considered unacceptable.

“The council have failed to demonstrate that any significant effects of more than local importance would warrant refusal, while the scheme would provide regionally significant renewable energy and socio-economic benefits.”

Green Cat said it was particularly disappointed that Gleneagles had objected.

In a letter to planners, an agent for the five-start establishment said: “We would stress that while impacts on the hotel and its operations at Gleneagles are paramount, our client recognises the impacts such developments have on the wider area and the overall tourism offer of Perthshire.

“It is the case that several visitors to the hotel have, in recent months, made comment regarding the proliferation of wind energy schemes within Perthshire and on their approach to the hotel.”

He said Gleneagles was generally supportive of renewable developments, but there were “serious concerns that the increasing numbers of wind energy schemes in the wider area is reaching saturation point.”

Councillors spoke out against the plan at a development management committee meeting in April.

Convener Tom Gray said he was “appalled” a second application had come forward for the same site.

Councillor Murray Lyle said applicants were attempting to “defend the indefensible”.

Ministers hope to give their ruling on the appeal by September.