A CAITHNESS man has won approval for a solitary wind turbine – despite a local Highland councillor claiming it could impact on the landscape because it would be near a controversial 12-turbine wind farm.
Jonathan Miller sought consent from the Highland Council to construct the 33.6m high turbine at Hillside Croft, Keiss.
Mr Miller’s proposed turbine was recommended for approval but brought before the local authority’s North Planning Applications Committee in Inverness on Tuesday because eight objections had been made about its proximity to houses, the potential noise and visual impact.
Caithness Landward councillor Robert Coghill, a committee member, tried to have the planning application rejected and claimed it would be an unacceptable blight on the local landscape coupled with the nearby RWE npower renewables Stroupster wind farm when it is built.
The Scottish Government gave permission for the Stroupster scheme in 2010 following a public inquiry.
Mr Coghill said he had initially supported the turbine proposal but thought it was too big.
"If it was a small turbine I would have no problems but on this open landscape it would stick out almost like a sore thumb," he said.
Mr Coghill’s motion to refuse the application because of an "unacceptable cumulative effect on the landscape" when considered with the Stroupster scheme, which is about five miles away, was defeated.
Victor Hawthorne, the council’s planning team leader for the Caithness area, told the committee that comparing the solitary turbine and the commercial wind farm was like "comparing apples and pears".
Another Landward Caithness councillor Willie Mackay, who also serves on the committee, said he supported the turbine plans and denied it would be intrusive.
Councillor Ian Ross (East Sutherland and Edderton) questioned the lack of a diagram so the committee could judge the visual impact of the turbine. The meeting was halted for 10 minutes so officials could provide an image and a decision reached.
Many of the objections submitted to the council expressed concern about flicker and noise as a result of having a turbine close to homes in the area.
Caithness Beef and Lamb site manager Peter Barker pointed out that the firm’s buildings are about 190 metres from the turbine and claimed and the noise could be distracting to the workforce.