By Stuart Findlay P&J

Campaigners partied at a Highland beauty spot yesterday after the Scottish
Government rejected plans to festoon it with 23 wind turbines.

Proposals tabled by Druim Ba Sustainable Energy for a hillside wood near
the village of Kiltarlity were opposed by an “aggressive” public campaign
and Highland Council.

However, SNP ministers took the final decision on the scheme and have ruled
that the impact on the area’s spectacular scenery and the noise nuisance
for residents would be too high a price to pay.

The developer claimed the project would generate £7.7 million of community
benefits.

Banners reading “We won” were draped over the gates of Blairmore Estate
yesterday as about 25 locals danced and toasted their victory with glasses
of champagne.

Lyndsey Ward, one of the leading members of the campaign group, said she
was “absolutely delighted” and that the decision gave hope to every
community trying to stop a windfarm being erected in their area.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced yesterday that the application was
being rejected because of the “significant adverse” impact on the landscape
and likely noise for nearby residents.

The news sparked scenes of celebration from the Druim Ba Say No action
group, which has campaigned against the proposal for two years.

Mr Ewing said: “Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that
is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland.

“I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit
from renewable energy – but not at any cost.

“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right
places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location
of any windfarm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and
should beconsideredenvironmentally acceptable.”

The 23 turbines would have stood 490ft tall on land at the Blairmore
Estate, off the A833 Kiltarlity-Drumnadrochit road.

In April 2011, campaigners from the Druim Ba Say No group flew a red blimp
over the property closest to the planned location to illustrate how tall
the structures would be.

Highland councillors rejected the proposal at a committee meeting in
September 2011 after 330 objections were lodged against the scheme.

The matter then became the subject of a public inquiry, at which the
developer said the scheme would create up to 55 jobs and provide
£7.7million of community benefits.

It also claimed the turbines would generate 69 megawatts of electricity and
power 38,000 homes.

Ms Ward said: “We put together an extremely good, aggressive campaign and
it gives hope for other communities that, if you don’t want a windfarm in
your community, fight them every step of the way and you’ve got a chance.

“This should not have been pursued. It is a disgusting development and
trying to foist it on the people of Kiltarlity is shameful.”

The decision to reject the development was welcomed by Skye, Lochaber and
Badenoch SNP MSP Dave Thompson.

He said: “This decision demonstrates that the local planning system is
working and takes into account local objections before any development is
given the go-ahead.

“I remain in principle supportive of renewable energy, but only in cases
where it is compatible with the planning system.”

No one at Druim Ba Sustainable Energy could be contacted for comment.


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