Highland Council will not object to a proposed 16-turbine wind farm near Lairg, despite objections from NatureScot, Mountaineering Scotland and two community councils.
The local authority’s north planning committee concluded that the benefits of the Chleansaid wind farm outweigh the challenges.
ESB Asset Development UK Limited wants to build the wind farm at Dalnessie, Lairg.
As a major national development, the application comes under the scope of the Electricity Act rather than Highland Council directly. The council is invited to comment as a consultee.
Debating the Lairg wind farm plan on Tuesday, councillors agreed not to make any formal objection to the Scottish Government.
Councillors and planning officers grappled with the particular location of this proposed wind farm.
The site itself doesn’t sit within any national conservation areas. However, it is in very close proximity to some of the most unspoilt landscapes in Scotland.
If approved, the wind farm will lie within 10 kilometres of three different wild lands, Caithness and Sutherland peatlands, and several moors, lochs and rivers with special environmental protections.
Caithness and Sutherland peatlands is currently in the running to be granted World Heritage Site status.
And adjoining the site boundary is hillwalkers’ favourite, Ben Klibreck and Armine forest.
The sensitive nature of the landscape attracted several objections. Most influential is that of NatureScot, which said the Lairg wind farm would have significant effects on the Ben Klibreck-Armine wild land area.
Mountaineering Scotland objected on the same grounds, adding that the wind farm would negatively impact the landscape and scenery. It said wind farms are encircling the hills, making them less attractive to hillwalkers and tourists.
However, in a 106-page report, Highland Council planners outlined that many of these concerns could be mitigated by imposing certain conditions on the application.
During debate, they reminded members that this is a national – not a local – planning application. As such, councillors needed to consider the positive contribution to national climate change targets.
If the application was going to Highland Council, the committee would place considerable weight on an objection from NatureScot.
However, in this case the council is just another consultee. Overall, planners felt the economic and environmental benefits nationally, outweighed the local sensitivities.  https://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/chleansaid-wind-farm-plan-near-lairg-raises-no-objection-fro-295858/?fbclid=IwAR0y_0NS_Yfpo-v7cvrU4jOIbtfoSZHhg-pYFYWwCm2JZAjafL5aztoa8CE

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