Hope for pylon protesters after windfarm rejection

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Dalmally community councillors have welcomed news of Argyll and Bute rejecting plans for a windfarm after fears its turbines could effect tourism.

Although miles away at Creag Dubh in Cowal, refusal of proposals for the windfarm on hills outside Strachur brings more hope to a Dalmally campaign that wants to block plans for more pylons in the area.

No More Pylons Dalmally campaigners are waiting for SSEN to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment as part of its planning consent application to  Scottish ministers for its Creag Dhubh to Dalmally 275 kV upgrade project.

Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council convener John Kerr said the recent refusal of the Creag Dubh wind farm by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee means there is  now a recognised link between visual impact and adverse affects on tourism and that hopefully that could help Dalmally’s cause.

‘Our Community Action Plan stresses the importance of tourism to sustain our area, and hopefully Argyll and Bute Council will now feel that they can comment on the SSEN application for approval of their Environmental Impact Assessment for the new Dalmally pylon line; which will contribute to the cumulative industrialisation of our exceptional landscape and thereby the loss of tourism and prosperity of our communities,’ said Mr Kerr.

A spokesperson for SSEN Transmission said: ‘Our proposals have been carefully designed so that views of the infrastructure are filtered and screened by forestry and topography where possible, with much of the alignment backdropped against woodland and hills to reduce its visual impact.  We have also moved the line to bring it further away from residential properties and key viewpoints.’

Detailed landscape and visual impact assessments have been carried out as part of the submission to Scottish Ministers and will be published in full once the application has been submitted and validated so stakeholders can make informed representations.

‘Whilst we acknowledge there will inevitably be an impact from the development of any new infrastructure, we firmly believe we have struck a fair balance between responding to community and stakeholder feedback, including minimising landscape and visual impacts where possible; protecting the local environment and avoiding national designations in the area; and minimising costs to the GB consumer who will ultimately pay for this critical national infrastructure through their energy bills,’ added the spokesperson.

Creag Dubh Renewables LLP had submitted plans to Argyll and Bute Council for nine turbines to be situated at Creag Dubh, north-east of the village in Cowal.

But the authority’s planning, protective services and licensing committee unanimously rejected the proposal, in line with a planning officer’s recommendation despite two councillors disagreeing with concerns over visual impact.

A planning officer  said in a handling report: ‘The proposal would result in a significant adverse effect on some of the special landscape qualities of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and consequently, the objectives of the designation and the overall integrity of the area would be compromised.

‘The presence of adverse landscape and visual impacts on Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park would suggest that the development may influence public attitudes to a point where tourists might become dissuaded from visiting.

‘Whilst the proposed wind farm is not within the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, it will be visible from within the National Park and an inappropriately scaled and sited development will raise issues in relation to scenic sensitivity and capacity to absorb large scale development.’

Planning officer Sandra Davies told the meeting on February 23: ‘It might deter some visitors if views are infiltrated with a wind farm.’