Plans unveiled for a new wind farm and battery storage facility near Watten have been slammed by opponents who say it is amongst the “largest proposed in the UK”.
The proposed Watten wind farm by EDF Renewables would have up to eight turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 52 MW. The site would be located approximately 3km to the southwest of Watten, on land owned by local families.
Scotland Against Spin (SAS) chairman Graham Lang said: “Eight turbines with a generating capacity of 6.6MW, each with a tip height of 220m, will be amongst the largest proposed in the UK. For comparison, the recently consented Limekiln extension turbines are only 5.2MW each and have a tip height of 149.9m.
“The height of these turbines and the length of the blades will make them visible over a much greater distance than smaller turbines in the area and aviation lighting will be required. The strobing effect created by the blades turning in front of the lights is one of the main reasons for complaints in areas such as East Renfrewshire as it causes night time flicker at nearby properties as well as driver distraction.
Mr Lang said that at only 3km from Watten, residents could suffer an “extreme loss of residential amenity and depreciation in property value”. He also believes that outlying properties closer to the site will be “affected to a greater degree and will have a higher probability of suffering from noise nuisance”.
“Local residents have to ask themselves if the offer of any financial benefit is worth the destruction of the landscape and the effect it may have on their lives and wildlife before making a decision.”
EDF Renewables UK is an established wind farm developer in Scotland and already operates 10 onshore wind farms across the country – including the Corriemoillie Wind Farm in Ross-shire.
Watten Wind Farm would consist of up to eight 6.6 MW turbines, with tip heights of up to 220m. To provide greater security in the supply of low-carbon electricity from the wind farm, a battery storage facility will also be included in the proposal.
Sarah Dooley, principal project development manager in Scotland for EDF Renewables UK, explained that there would be public exhibitions in Watten and Spittal Village Halls to seek views on the proposal at an early stage.
She said: “We always strive to work closely with local communities in the areas in which our wind farms are located, and we hope to do the same here in Caithness.
“We will be holding two of these early-stage exhibitions local to the site in June, and will then follow up with a series of public exhibitions in the wider area later in the year once our environmental and technical assessments have been completed.”
Mr Lang said that due to the generating capacity of the wind farm, this will be a decision for the Scottish Ministers although the “local authority will be consulted and have the right to object”.
He continued: “Wind energy schemes in England are determined by the local authority, irrespective of size and they are directed to only grant planning permission if the development site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development … and the proposal has community backing.” The pressure group is currently petitioning the Scottish Parliament to give the same powers to Scottish communities so they can make their own decisions “instead of Scottish Ministers doing it for them”.
Meanwhile, EDF Renewables UK plans to submit a scoping request to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit this week, before holding the local public exhibitions and meeting with local residents in the week commencing June 20.
The public exhibitions will enable EDF Renewables UK to gather information from the local community about the proposed development, and to hear views from those who live nearby the proposed wind farm. There will also be an opportunity to find out about the community benefit fund that would be established alongside the wind farm.
There will be a second round of exhibitions later in the year which will provide more detailed information about how the wind farm would look.
The initial public exhibitions will take place at: Spittal Village Hall on Monday, June 20 from 2pm to 7pm and Watten Village Hall on Tuesday, June 21 from 2pm to 7pm.