PLANS to change the design of wind turbines at a site in Caithness after the initial application was given the go-head have been described as "unfair" by a landward councillor.
Willie Mackay is disappointed E.ON has asked the Highland Council to change the design of 11 of the 25 turbines it proposed to build at Camster by extending their height by more than three feet.
The issue arose when the developer announced it wanted to change the design of the foundations so that 11 of the turbines would be sitting on top of the land rather than embedded in the soil. It was discovered that peat in parts of the site is deeper than first thought and E.ON now wants to pile some of the foundations.
E.ON wants permission to add 1.20 metres to the 393ft blade-tip height of 11 turbines and claims it will have no effect on the skyline.
Despite being disappointed, Mr Mackay is not against the proposal.
"I think it’s a bit unfair to ask for an increase after the initial planning application had gone through, although I think it would barely be noticed among the other 14 that is going up there," he said.
"It is a bit disappointing from the developer’s point of view after they had submitted their plans a while a go. Maybe they should have been aware of this possibility before they submitted their plans because the height of these winds turbines is very much a controversial matter in the determination of such a scheme.
"I have spoken to a few people in the Watten area who have said that it is embarrassing that E.ON have had to come along and ask for a greater height of turbine. Some residents are not happy and I am not protesting against the issue, but until I see this application I can’t comment on the grounds they would have to see this change of plan."
E.ON was originally granted planning permission to build 25 turbines at the site in January 2009, claiming it would generate electricity for 35,000 homes.
The extension plan drew opposition at a public meeting held last week when local residents said they would oppose the move.
They argue the company has failed to comply with planning conditions by starting work before finalising the specification for the turbines.
They also claimed the extended height of the blades would have a visual impact on the surrounding area.
A spokeswoman for E.ON said the change of design would result in the reduction of peat that would have to be removed from the site.
She said: "A 1.20 metre tip-height extension at Camster will allow for foundations to be designed and constructed at or near ground level and significantly reduce the volume of waste peat that would result from having to excavate deeper.
"A piled solution has already been introduced to reduce waste peat and an extension to the tip height would minimise waste peat further."