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Windfarm Protestors Claim Council Blueprint Favors the Industry

A Windfarm concern group is claiming that Highland Council's draft blueprint on renewable energy is fatally flawed and unduly influenced by industry involvement.

Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF) maintains the data produced by consultants for a council working group is riddled with errors and inaccuracies.

And it claims the draft has been drawn up more to benefit the commercial interests of big windfarm developers than people in the Highlands.

Its findings come as councillors prepare to meet on Wednesday to finalise guidelines which will shape future renewable energy developments in the region.

Working group chairman Sandy Park yesterday said it welcomes constructive criticism but denied the alleged commercial bias.

CWIF has previously highlighted anomalies in maps produced by the council's consultants Aquetera Ltd.

Preferred new windfarm sites included part of Inverness Airport; a section of the main Inverness/Aberdeen road; and ground adjoining the Culloden battlefield and the West Highland Way.

A study of Aquetera's source material by CWIF member Stuart Young has prompted a raft of fresh concerns which the forum believes invalidates the current process.

Mr Young said yesterday: "We have overwhelming evidence that the computer model has simply failed to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF) maintains the data produced by consultants for a council working group is riddled with errors and inaccuracies.
 
And it claims the draft has been drawn up more to benefit the commercial interests of big windfarm developers than people in the Highlands.
 
Its findings come as councillors prepare to meet on Wednesday to finalise guidelines which will shape future renewable energy developments in the region.
 
Working group chairman Sandy Park yesterday said it welcomes constructive criticism but denied the alleged commercial bias.
 
CWIF has previously highlighted anomalies in maps produced by the council's consultants Aquetera Ltd.
 
Preferred new windfarm sites included part of Inverness Airport; a section of the main Inverness/Aberdeen road; and ground adjoining the Culloden battlefield and the West Highland Way.
 
A study of Aquetera's source material by CWIF member Stuart Young has prompted a raft of fresh concerns which the forum believes invalidates the current process.
 
Mr Young said yesterday: "We have overwhelming evidence that the computer model has simply failed to eliminate populated areas from selected areas for windfarm development.
 
These include Auldearn; the Black Isle; Maryburgh; John O'Groats; and villages on the eastern seaboard of Caithness.
 
"The public have been consulted on locational information which is incorrect and councillors are being misinformed."
 
He added that consultants use a 500metre buffer zone between a windfarm and the nearest house, when a kilometre gap is recommended in draft planning guidelines.
 
Mr Young claimed developers' costs loom large in the criteria used to assess sites. "Nine of the first 11 criteria listed relate to developers' costs," he said.
 
These include distance to electricity supplies and to an industrial port. He claimed the maps produced clearly follow the path of the electricity grid when designating suitable development areas.
 
Maf Smith chief executive of Scottish Renewables, which includes firms involved in over 30 turbine schemes - operational or proposed - throughout the Highlands, said regardless of the pros and cons of the issue, the draft needs to be rewritten as it is based on a faulty computer model.
 
It has relayed its concerns to council planning director John Rennilson as well as Highland MPs and MSPs.
 
Nairn councillor Sandy Park yesterday denied the draft is fatally flawed.


Source: http://www.thisisnorthscotl...

MAR 17 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1753-windfarm-protestors-claim-council-blueprint-favors-the-industry
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