Planning officials at Highlands council have recommended that the number of turbines planned for the proposed SSE wind parc at Strathy be chopped by nearly 20% after Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland raised concerns about the development’s impact on bird life.
Officials have recommended that councillors on the North Planning Applications Committee make no objection to the plans, pending the revised layout when they meet on Monday, 9 June.
Ministry of Defence officials asked for four machines to go in connection with low flying while Scottish Natural Heritage raised conservation concerns over another four.
Utility giant SSE has agreed to the proposed cut, which would cut top power from around 160MW to 132MW and reduce the number of turbines from 47 to 39.
The RSPB recently stepped up its efforts to stop plans to build what would be one of Scotland’s largest wind farms in the heart of the Flow Country.The charity leafletted residents of north Sutherland to back the campaign mounted against SSE’s proposal to put up 47 turbines on part of the tract of blanket bog which is the subject of a World Heritage Site application.
Members also staged a demonstration on part of the Strathy South site where the company want to erect the turbines, which would have a maximum blade-height of 135 metres.
RSPB Caithness and Sutherland conservation officer Kenny Graham said: “Even the most avid supporters of green energy recognise the unique value of the Flow Country and want to see it properly protected. This would be a totally inappropriate development in the heart of Europe’s largest blanket bog.
“The Flows are on a par with the Great Barrier Reef. We should be looking after them, prospering from and securing their health, not compromising their future.”
The RSPB said that SSE has significantly under-estimated the risks the turbines would pose to some of Scotland’s rarest and “most charismatic” birds. The site provides breeding grounds for golden eagles, hen harriers, black-throated and red-throated divers, greenshanks, dunlins, golden plovers wood and sandpipers.
* Meanwhile, construction work to lay the concrete foundations at the nearby Strathy North wind parc is going ahead as planned. SSE contractor RJ McLeod has signed Melvich Quarry operator John Gunn & Sons to provide concrete for the 33 turbine bases at the 67.65MW Strathy North wind farm in Sutherland.