THE developers behind a 17-turbine wind farm at Dunbeath that was rejected by the Scottish Government are considering whether or not to challenge the knockback.
Dunbeath Energy Wind Ltd’s proposal was turned down by energy minister Fergus Ewing who said it would have an unduly detrimental impact on the landscape and wildlife.
A spokeswoman for West Coast Energy, agents for Dunbeath Energy Wind Ltd, yesterday said it was considering an appeal.
"We are extremely disappointed that our application has been refused," she said.
"We are reviewing the appeal decision to understand the detailed reasons behind it and are currently considering our options.
"We firmly believe that this project would have been of benefit locally and nationally, helping to combat climate change and supporting the local community."
She said the scheme would have allowed residents to buy a share in the wind farm while it also promised a community-owned turbine and a community benefit fund.
While Highland Council did not object to the planning application, the opposition of Scottish Natural Heritage led to the staging of a public local inquiry in July 2011. Following the hearing in Dunbeath, the Reporter recommended refusal.
Announcing his ruling, Mr Ewing said that the impact on the landscape and wildlife, together with the presence of other nearby wind farms would be too severe.
"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 wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable," he said.
The announcement was welcomed by the Royal Society Protection of Birds (RSPB), whose objection was based on concern about the wind farm’s impact on nearby breeding golden eagles.
RSPB Scotland head of planning and development Aedan Smith, said: "We are pleased that this decision makes it more likely that golden eagles will once again breed successfully in the area.
"RSPB supports renewable energy development, including onshore wind, but only if the site is appropriate and does not have a negative impact on wildlife."
Caithness Wind Information Forum chairman Stuart Young also expressed welcomed the rejection of the proposed development on Dunbeath Estate. "If there was ever a place not to put a wind farm that was it," he said. "It would have been placed alongside some of the finest views in Caithness. If you do not want to ruin the visual impact, you don’t put a wind farm in front of them.
"If it did get approval it would show a lack of sensitivity towards the surrounding area.
"I am delighted that the Scottish Government has taken into account the impact on wild land and it shows Highland Council’s recent decisions are out of kilter on the way the Scottish government is going at the moment."
Dunbeath Wind Energy Limited is a joint venture between RDC Scotland Limited and Italian firm Falck Renewables.