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Armadale residents celebrate as wind farm bid is withdrawn

By Iain Grant

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Anti-wind farm campaigners are celebrating after the scrapping of plans to develop a nine-turbine scheme on the north Sutherland coast.

Armadale Windfarm Action Group (AWAG) hailed the move as “a victory for local democracy”.

A visual of the proposed Armadale Wind Farm which has now been withdrawn.
A visual of the proposed Armadale Wind Farm which has now been withdrawn.

At the same time, its members are anxiously awaiting to learn if it marks the end of Brookfield Renewable’s interest in the small crofting township, 26 miles west of Thurso.

The 150-metre high turbines were earmarked to go up on a tract of hill land and common grazings overlooking Armadale.

Opponents claimed the development would have 'overwhelmed' the village and blighted the section of the A836, which is part of the North Coast 500.

The planning application attracted more than 100 objections from locals, as well as four local community councils, Highland Council and NatureScot.

North area planning officer Dafydd Jones believes the turbines would have a “startling” impact on the landscape and the 10 kilometre stretch of the NC500, as well as impinge on Farr Bay, Strathy and Portskerra Special Landscape Area.

NatureScot objected about the perceived loss of acid grassland and heath.

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Highland Council's objection came too late to trigger a public local inquiry but the hearing was set to take place on the back of the opposition from NatureScot.

That will not now happen after Highland Council earlier this week received confirmation that Brookfield has withdrawn its application.

AWAG spokesperson Detta Velvis said: “It’s, of course, great news that the scheme has been withdrawn.

“We see it as a victory for local democracy, given that so many local people opposed it, together with four local community councils and Highland Council.

“But we remain cautious that it might not be the end of the story as we wonder if they will come back with yet another application.”

Ms Velvis said that since Brookfield first took an interest in Armadale in 2017, its initial plans to build 23 turbines were first downsized to 12 and subsequently to nine.

“At the moment we’re very happy but at the same time we are trying to find out if they are going to come back with yet another scheme.”

Ms Velvis, who runs a B&B at Armadale House, added: “We are hoping Armadale can be the start of the tide turning against wind farm developments in this part of the world.

“We're already at saturation point and hopefully this can draw a line in the sand and stop the invasion of more wind farms coming here.”

Brookfield had offered financial incentives to shareholder crofters to support its scheme as well as offering a community benefit fund worth up to £215,000 a year.

The company has not yet responded to a request to clarify whether Armadale remains a potential development site.

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