Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has lodged a damning objection against the Macritch Hill wind turbine application for Backwater Reservoir. The planned development, for 18 industrial wind turbines each over 400 feet tall, has been criticised by SNH on several grounds. SNH states that it recognises the huge importance of mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, in the case of Macritch Hill SNH said "We consider it unlikely that, given the sensitive location of the proposal, its detrimental impacts could be reduced or mitigated to a level where we would remove our objection." The objection is particularly significant as SNH very rarely objects to wind farm developments.
This objection, from the Scottish Government's statutory consultee on landscape and ecological issues, adds to those lodged by leading environmental charities including the John Muir Trust (JMT) and International Raptor Research and Conservation (IRRC) and has been welcomed by local groups campaigning against the development.
Last week, a public meeting held at Kirriemuir Town Hall to discuss the development heard a presentation from leading clinical radiologist Dr Rachel Connor, a campaigner against wind turbines sited in drinking water protection areas like Backwater Reservoir because of the risk of water pollution. Other speakers were Helen McDade, Head of Policy of the JMT, Stewart Miller, Director of IRRC and Graham Lang, Chairman of of Scotland Against Spin (SAS). The meeting acknowledged the need for renewable energy developments but urged against the siting of industrial scale wind turbines in sensitive locations such as Backwater Reservoir, where irrevocable damage to the landscape and destruction of habitats of protected species such as wild cats, and golden and white tailed sea eagles, would result.
Angus Council has also registered objections to the development. Mr Steven Thomson, Angus Council Senior Environmental Health Officer, says in a report that there are doubts about the accuracy of the noise data provided by the applicant and requests that they carry out further site investigations and additional noise measurement. The applicant has further failed to provide an assessment of the impact on the residential amenity of nearby properties.
He said “This service objects to the application due to lack of information relating to operational wind turbine noise. We will review the objection if these issues are addressed by the applicants.”.
Mr Thomson’s report follows advice from leading acoustic consultant Mr Dick Bowdler, who was asked by the Council to review the applicant’s noise assessment.
Another objection from Mr Thomson is over the “potential impact to private water supplies”. He says that the applicants have failed to carry out necessary risk assessments at two properties.
Sue Smith, spokeswoman for Friends of Backwater and Glen Isla Against Turbines, said that campaigning groups welcomed the robust objection from statutory consultee SNH and from the Angus Council environmental health official. “We believe some of the data ENECO has provided is flawed and the application is quite clearly contrary to the Angus Local Plan. Apart from noise and water issues, the landscape character of this beautiful area would be destroyed and local habitats of many endangered species threatened." She added "The reservoir is a popular and accessible beauty spot which is visited regularly by people from the surrounding towns and cities who are looking for peace and tranquility in the rural countryside."
It has been confirmed that Angus Council will consider the planning application on Thursday May 14 and will then send its recommendation to the Scottish Government. If the Council objects there could be a local public inquiry.