Scottish Government blocks major Highland Perthshire wind farm plan

© DC Thomson
There was significant local opposition to the wind farm plan. Residents had the chance to view the 25 turbine plan at an exhibition at Aberfeldy town hall.

A giant Highland Perthshire wind farm has been ruled out by the Scottish Government after they said it would scar the landscape.

The Scottish Government said the development was so significant it would have made “a meaningful contribution to Scotland’s renewable energy targets”.

Nonetheless, minsters believed it would have damaged the landscape so badly it could not be allowed to proceed.

Opponents said they hoped the decision, and its cost in time and money, would “convince energy companies to seek more suitable locations in the future before they submit speculative applications”.

The wind farm plan had been hanging over the Highland Perthshire community for almost five years, with a giant scheme boasting as many as 40 turbines.

Following widespread public outcry it had been hoped West Coast Energy would withdraw its plan, but instead bosses came back with a revised 25 turbine scheme.

The metal towers would have risen 115 metres from ground to blade tip and would have been erected a short distance south-west of Aberfeldy – within touching distance of the existing Calliacher wind farm.

An artist’s impression shows how the site, on the Urlar Estate, might have looked.

West Coast Energy had hoped to smooth the passage of the wind farm with promises of generating enough energy to power 40,000 homes and a community fund that could have generated as much as £9 million during its lifespan.

Those plans have now been dashed by the Scottish Ministers who believe its impact, both visually and environmentally, would be too great.

The decision followed a site visit and extensive public local inquiry at which the John Muir Trust and other organisations – including Scottish Natural Heritage, Perth and Kinross Council and the RSPB – expressed concern about the impact of the scheme on surrounding Wild Land Areas.

In their report, ministers concluded: “The development would make a meaningful contribution towards meeting Scotland’s renewable energy targets.

“Nevertheless, the landscape effects of the proposal cannot be adequately controlled by planning conditions and are significant to an extent that would outweigh the renewable energy and climate change benefits that would occur.

“The location, dominance and scale of the proposal would have unacceptable landscape and visual impacts.”

John Muir Trust policy officer John Low, who attended both the site visit and the public local inquiry said the Scottish Government had made “the right decision”.

He said: “Highland Perthshire is the scenic heart of Scotland and already makes a major contribution to renewable energy targets, through its wind farms and hydro schemes.

“Local communities across Highland Perthshire were rightly concerned that this wind farm could have inflicted serious damage not just to the ecology and landscape of the area, but also to local businesses which rely on year-round tourism.

“The application has consumed a lot of time and money.

“Hopefully this decision will convince energy companies to seek more suitable locations in the future before they submit speculative applications.”

West Coast Energy declined to comment on the defeat.

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