There have been no further developments to report regarding the development of local wind farms of immediate interest to the NEMT but some developments, we are now aware of, have taken place in other areas which are of interest. Planning permission for a windfarm on the Dell Estate was refused by Highland Council in October 2017. Currently no appeal has been lodged by the developer. NEMT did not comment on this when the original application was submitted. This proposal is adjacent to the very large Stronelairg wind farm on the Garrogie Estate South East of Fort Augustus which has 66 turbines on it.
Scoping Opinion for a further wind farm, the Glenshero wind farm, situated just over the south side of the hill from Stronelairg was issued in November 2017. The NEMT does not usually comment at the scoping phase of these developments but the John Muir Trust did do for this one. (Full response available on their web site). It is planned to have some 40 turbines with a reported tip height of 135m. Although it is not situated in a wild land area it would cover the Corbett Meall na h'Aisre. It will have a visual impact on three wild land areas; WLA 19 (Braeroy - Glenshirra-Creag Meagaidh), WLA 20 (Monadhliaths) and WLA 14 (Rannoch-Nevis-Mamores). The JMT raised issues regarding the accuracy of the claim the power generation proposed could be achieved by wind turbines with this tip height and drew attention to the potential for a late application for a higher height of turbine which would negate the impact assessment being undertaken for the current proposal. Other issues were raised regarding the cumulative impact of wind farms in the area, problems regarding the impact on "deep peat" in the wind farm area and the methodology being used to carry out the Wild Land Impact Assessment.
Issues regarding the Corriemoullie Wind Farm proposals are currently being reviewed following a very recent application to Highland Council.
The Scottish Government issued an Onshore Wind Policy Statement in December 2017. This contained two paragraphs of particular interest as below:
49. We believe that the current system, as described in our consultation as "business as usual", continues to represent an effective and efficient process for considering applications for developments in excess of 50 MW. However, we still expect developers of such projects to make every effort to find opportunities to collaborate, and to reduce potential local landscape impacts.
77. We understand too that wild land remains an important issue for many stakeholders. The Scottish Government, through its planning policy and frameworks, continues to deliver significant protection for wild land areas, while avoiding a blanket restriction. We believe that this remains the right approach, and are determined to maintain what we believe is a strong track record on balancing environmental protection with our ambitious renewable energy goals.
Whilst paragraph 49 would appear to support a more co-ordinated approach, paragraph 77 reaffirms the Scottish Government's position of not being prepared to offer any increased protection for the areas covered by the Wild Land Map.
Looking to the future, wind farms may be repowered well within the lifetime of the construction as they fall in efficiency and better wind turbines are developed. This is attractive to the Scottish Government as it will help achieve the targets they have set but it presents a number of issues:
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