Residents campaigning against a major wind farm application in Sutherland have criticised the local council for a “half-hearted” response to the appeals process.
Highland Council’s north area planning committee members initially rejected the controversial Meall Buidhe windfarm against planning officers’ recommendations – but developers immediately appealed to the Scottish Government in the hope of overturning the decision.
As the host area and initial decision-maker, the local authority’s submission to ministers in Edinburgh is seen as a crucial part of the appeals process.
However, the council sent in just a four-paragraph statement to the Scottish Government planning reporter and made no comments on the updated appeal material from the developer.
That’s in contrast to a 135-page document that was previously prepared by officials in support of the development, which would see eight large turbines built near the village of Rosehall.
Elected representatives then defied that advice from council officials to vote down the planning application. The Scottish Government is expected to make a final decision on the wind farm proposal next month. Local campaign group No Ring of Steel (NORoS) said the development was unpopular with residents and businesses and should be rejected.
Ashley Smith, spokesman for No Ring of Steel said: “This wind farm development would cause significant damage to the scenery and the quality of life enjoyed by people and visitors in and around Rosehall.
“There are already three operational wind farms in the area and several others in planning, and a line has to be drawn.
“We feel that, as a community, we are already doing our fair share to halt the climate crisis
“Councillors on the local authority planning committee took these concerns on board and arrived at the right decision.
“It’s therefore extremely disappointing that the council itself has submitted such a half-hearted statement to the appeals process.
“Any Scottish Government official reading that would think there was no real objection at all, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We can only hope that the planning reporter hears the concerns of local people and businesses and continues to stand up for us in ruling against this unacceptable application.”