By Andrew Galloway, Local Democracy Reporter
Plans for a windfarm which would be seen from Bute look set to fail – but
not before a public hearing.
The proposals for a wind farm at Ardtaraig near Loch Striven, comprising
seven wind turbines each 13.5m high, are to go before Argyll and Bute
Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee on
Wednesday, January 23.
But a report produced for the meeting by planning officer Arlene Knox
recommends that planning permission is refused subject to a discretionary
hearing taking place.
The additional meeting is recommended because nearly 300 objections to the
plan have been received by the council’s planning department.
Ms Knox’s report said: “The proposal is considered contrary to government
policy, guidance and local development plan policy, and guidance published
by the council in the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study
“It will have an adverse effect on the special qualities and integrity of
the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area and it is not considered that these
adverse impacts can be mitigated.
“It is also considered that the proposal will have significant adverse
landscape and visual impacts.
“Furthermore, that as a consequence of the proposals significant adverse
landscape and visual impacts, the proposed development may influence public
attitudes to a point where tourists might become dissuaded from visiting.
“Argyll and Bute Council will resist any development in, or affecting,
National Scenic Areas that would have an adverse effect on the integrity of
the area, or that would undermine the Special qualities of the area.
“(That is) unless it is adequately demonstrated that any significant
adverse effects on the landscape quality for which the area has been
designated are clearly outweighed by social, environmental or economic
benefits of national importance.”
The planned windfarm site is beside Loch Striven, approximately 15km west
of Dunoon and 3.1km east of the village of Glendaruel.
Most major bodies consulted, such as Scottish Water, SEPA and the Loch
Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, have expressed no objection.
But along with hundreds of members of the public, two other consulted
parties have not given their backing to the development.
Ms Knox added: “Scottish Natural Heritage has objected to the proposal on
the grounds that the proposal would have an adverse effect on the special
qualities and integrity of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area.
“SNH considers that these effects cannot be mitigated. SNH also have
significant concerns regarding the landscape and visual impacts of this
“Scottish Wild Land Group has also objected on the grounds that they
believe the environmental and other impacts hugely outweigh any benefits.
“They raise particular concern about adverse impact on raptors, protected
areas, wild land tourism, questionable impacts on global warming,
decommissioning/repowering; and ancient woodland.
“At time of writing a total of 356 letters of representations have been
received, comprising 293 objections, five petitions from the NAW (No
Ardtaraig Windfarm) group, 56 support and two representations.”
In a supporting statement lodged with the council, the planners of the
windfarm said the proposed facility would be in use for 25 years and would
then be decommissioned.
The statement said: “The importance of taking action to address climate
change is recognised both internationally and nationally.
“Successive EU, UK and Scottish Governments have set clear obligations to
this end, establishing firm commitments for the promotion and use of
renewable energy along with requirements for urgent action.
“The proposed development is a positive response to the ambitious targets
for renewable electricity generation described above.
“As such, the renewable electricity output of the proposed development
would provide a meaningful uplift to the Scottish and the UK Governments’
renewable electricity targets, while reducing CO2 emissions and playing a
positive role in the diversification of the UK’s energy mix.”