A Highland community leader has called for an extra planning condition to prevent the extension of a windfarm should it be permitted following a public inquiry.
Developer Force 9 Energy is appealing against a decision by council planners to reject the erection of 13 turbines up to 448ft tall, above Loch Meiklie on the north side of Glen Urquhart.
Views for and against the Cnoc an Eas windfarm scheme have been heard over four days this week during an inquiry at Cannich Village Hall. Scottish Government reporter Timothy Brian, chairing the inquiry, will now consider the evidence and make a final decision. Yesterday, during a discussion to propose extra conditions in the event of the windfarm being approved, Glenurquhart Community Council chairwoman Pam Lucas said: “Glenuqu hart Community Council want a condition to prevent any form of creep or extension of permission, as we have seen this happen on many other windfarm sites.”
But Peter Nesbit, law partner at Eversheds Sutherland representing Force 9 Energy, said: “You will not be surprised to hear we would take the view any extension would require its own consent.
“It would be appropriate to consider that at the appropriate time.
“I think it would be unreasonable to impose a condition to prevent extension in the future.” Simon Hindson, acting principle planning officer for the council, suggested it might be possible through a legal agreement as opposed to a condition.
Following the meeting, Mrs Lucas said: “Our experience of other sites has been that they (developers) apply for extensions, and as this is quite a large site our fear is that will happen here.
“There are also frequently applications for ‘returbining’, when they just replace existing turbines with newer, bigger models.
“Usually there will be a commercial reluctance to agree to such a condition of this nature, but it’s important to bring it up anyway.
“We continue to believe that this is not a suitable place for any wind farm and that it’s contrary in any event to Highland Council’s local plan.”
Mrs Lucas also called for assurance of a safe junction between the site access track and A831Kil mo rackDrum na drochit road, which she claims would create a risk of vehicles sliding onto the main road in icy conditions.
Force 9 Energy, said that the access will include an apron and tarmacked area and a gate designed to high standards. He also said that another access track will be upgraded to the north of houses in the area to ensure residents could access their homes.
“We continue to believe that this is not a suitable place for any windfarm”