Outrage at plans for wind farm near Hill of Forss
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Residents in the Hill of Forss area are outraged about plans for a wind farm on the outskirts of Thurso.
A number of home owners have launched a protest against the proposals and formed an opposition group – Action against Cairnmore.
The objections come after energy company RES outlined its plans for an eight-turbine project at Cairnmore Hill, near Hill of Forss quarry. The maximum tip height of the turbines would be 138.5m.
One of the objectors, John Crofts stated that the plans were "completely outrageous and a deceitful use of the planning rules".
Questioning the planning process, Mr Croft said: "I have been wondering why this wind farm application is so well hidden and why we as close neighbours have not been informed or consulted.
"I now discover that only neighbours within 20m need informed. Really – that is outrageous. Somebody can propose a development of eight turbines each nearly 150 metres tall and only people 20m from the boundary need informed."
He continued: "They have made little or no effort to contact affected people. The windmills will be a mere 900 metres from my house and yet nobody has approached me to talk to me or my family to check we understand – that is appalling, possibly deliberately so, stakeholder management by any measure."
Current Covid-19 restrictions has meant that the group can not meet to discuss their worries but are instead having to rely on Facebook to voice their concerns.
They had planned to show their protest by getting together to do a group photograph on Sunday, however due to social distancing guidelines they created a collage of individual pictures instead.
Concerned resident, Julie Douglas, stressed: "As a family we highly object to Cairnmore Windfarm. They are designed in such a way that are significantly detrimental to many people in our small community who live in the countryside to enjoy the wild and natural landscape and not to have a monstrosity on the community doorstep which would affect ones health to only benefit a couple of people."
Another objector, Liz Bamber stated: "I feel that the application name is misleading and sharp practice as few residents in the area or indeed Thurso know where Cairnmore Hillock is. I have lived in this peaceful, rural area for over 36 years.
"By nature of the rurality and the proximity to Thurso the area has become popular, particularly so this year, with many walkers, cyclists, horse riders and joggers from the town using the six mile loop for their daily exercise."
Concerned home owner Rhona Omand said: "These turbines are too big and too near the town and I don't think the people who live in Thurso realise the affect they will have on their lives.
"Many people living just three miles from the proposed site seem blissfully unaware of the application."
She added: "No consideration has been given to the danger of flicker interference onto the main Dounreay road A836 which is already a notoriously dangerous stretch."
Mr Scott Farquhar, who has just built a family home at his small farm which borders the planned site, pointed out: "The proposed map shows some of these turbines close to our house.
"Seems rather crazy these are being proposed to be built so close to the town of Thurso where they could be built out in the Causewaymire along with the rest of them away from the town."
The group are urging other local people not happy with the plans to make their feelings known quickly as the neighbour consultation expiry date is given as next Wednesday (November 4), while Highland Council's deadline for objections is Sunday, November 15.
In response to the comments RES senior development project manager Graeme Kerr stated: "To help avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change we need to reduce our emissions now. Onshore wind is the cheapest form of clean renewable electricity and Cairnmore Hill will help achieve this transition at least cost to consumers.
"Cairnmore Hill is in an area identified by Highland Council as having ‘potential for wind farm development’ and would be capable of generating enough clean, low cost renewable electricity for approximately 37,000 homes.
"If consented, Cairnmore Hill could deliver around £12 million in business rates to the Highland Council over its operational lifetime, and has the potential to deliver approximately £2.2 million of economic benefit to the local area in the form of jobs, employment and use of local services."
He pointed out: "RES has consulted extensively on its Cairnmore Hill Wind Farm proposal over the course of the project’s development, holding two sets of public exhibitions in Forss and Thurso during November 2016 and April 2019.
"The exhibition events were widely advertised in the local media and newsletters were mailed out to over 1,000 local households ahead of each event to help raise awareness of the project.
"Additionally, newsletter updates in spring 2018 and autumn 2020 have been distributed and we have also met regularly with individual local residents over the last few years to discuss the project further, answer their questions, and where possible address any concerns that they raised."