Council against ‘jumbled’ Knapdale wind farm

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The visual impact of 14 wind turbines on relatively unspoilt landscape of south Knapdale was a main reason for Argyll and Bute Council again stating its opposition to a proposed development.

Members of the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee voted to oppose the plans by EDF Energy Renewables for the Airigh Wind Farm, situated in the hills between West Loch Tarbert and Loch Caolisport.

Argyll and Bute Council, however, is just one of several consultees, as applications to build onshore wind farms generating more than 50MW require the consent of the Scottish Government.

The company originally submitted its plans in August 2017, at which time the PPSL committee decided – on a casting vote – to oppose the development.

EDF has since made slight amendments to the site layout, and has responded to requests from some consultees for additional detail by preparing a Supplementary Environmental Information report.

All of this meant that the application had to be re-issued for consultation, but the PPSL committee’s opposition was sustained during a May 22 meeting at council headquarters.

The objection was based on significant adverse effects on the South Knapdale Area of Panoramic Quality; a significant adverse cumulative landscape impact; and a ‘jumbled’ appearance of the turbines viewed from the south west.

EDF Energy Renewables proposes 14 wind turbines up to 149.5m height to blade tip, generating 50.4-58.8 KW, in a ‘bowl-like’ area 8.4km south west of Tarbert. The site, accessed via the Alt Dearg Wind Farm entrance near Inverneill on the A83, requires 30km of track.

At the PPSL meeting, members heard that South Knapdale Community Council, while not a statutory consultee, had expressed opposition to the plans.

A number of committee members raised the wider issues of climate change as a reason for  supporting the development, but the council’s head of planning Angus Gilmour advised that, in the opinion of council officers the detriment to the scenic value of the landscape was an important consideration.

He added: ‘Climate change is a significant material consideration, but officers’ advice is that it does not outweigh landscape and visual impact concerns in this case, and this would not constitute sustainable development.’

Faced with a choice between a motion by chairman Councillor David Kinniburgh to oppose Airigh Wind Farm and an amendment by Councillor George Freeman to support EDF Energy’s plans, members voted eight to four in favour of the motion.