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Strathy South wind farm should have four fewer turbines, says Highland Council report

By Gordon Calder

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THE proposed wind farm at Strathy South should have four fewer turbines, taking the number from 39 to 35. That is the recommendation which will be before the North Planning Applications Committee next week when SSE Generation Ltd apply for consent to vary the blade tip height from 135 to up to 200 metres under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. Maximum consented output would increase from 133 to 208 megawatts.

The application will be determined by the Scottish Government but Highland Council is being asked for its view as a statutory consultee.

SSE want to increase the increase the blade tip height from 135 to up to 200 metres at Strathy South
SSE want to increase the increase the blade tip height from 135 to up to 200 metres at Strathy South

A report for committee members recommends no objection is raised but suggests four of the turbines should be removed along with the associated infrastructure.

It says: "The principle of a wind farm has been established in this location. The key consideration therefore is whether the proposed increase in the size of the turbines is deemed acceptable. The effect of the increase in blade tip height is most obvious when considering matters of landscape and visual impact. For the most part the increase in blade tip height is acceptable, including the introduction of aviation lighting."

However, it states: "There are some concerns with the way in which the increased blade tip height emphasises design issues with the consented turbines through the horizontal extent of the scheme being more noticeable and stacking and overlapping of turbines in some views being exacerbated.

"While accepting it is not possible to design a wind farm from all angles, it is considered that the composition of the scheme in those views from the north in particular are important to the acceptability of the development in the landscape."

As a result it suggests the removal of four of the turbines.

"If accepted by Ministers, this will reduce the energy yield of the proposed development by 21.2 megawatts. However, even with this reduction, the increased yield from the development as a result of the proposed variation would be significant."

The report notes the application is supported by the community councils in the area "and there is large proportion of support for the development." But it adds: "There are outstanding matters related to ornithology as highlighted in objections from NatureScot and RSPB. This is, however, a matter for Scottish Ministers to consider in the planning balance. With the exception of ornithology, on all other matters the varied scheme is considered acceptable and the benefit of the increased output is considered to outweigh the adverse effects."

Strathy South Wind Farm was consented in 2018 and comprises of 39 wind turbines of 135m to blade tip (capable of generating up to 133MW in total) and ancillary infrastructure including approximately 32 kilometres of on-site access tracks.

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