The John Muir Trust will now give evidence at a Public Local Inquiry into a 24 turbine wind farm at Limekiln, near Reay, Caithness, later this month – despite making no representations when the application was first submitted.
Developer Infinergy Ltd is proposing to construct and operate an onshore wind farm known as Limekiln Wind Farm. The site is located around 1.5km south of Reay, and 2.8km south/southwest of the existing Dounreay Power Station.
Limekiln Wind Farm is going to public inquiry following Highland Council’s refusal of planning permission, against their officer’s recommendation for approval.
The site is approximately 11km² and the land is currently used as a commercial woodland plantation. The turbines – each with the maximum predicted capacity of 3MW – would have the capacity to produce enough renewable electricity to meet the annual demand of around 40,200 households per year.
The maximum height to the top of the tower, the hub, will be either 84.6m or 98.4m and when one of the blades is in a vertical position, the entire turbine would measure up to a maxiumum of either 125.4m or 139.4m to the tip of the blade.
Being held on 25-26 August, this will be the first Inquiry into a development affecting one of the recently confirmed Wild Land Areas (Area 39, East Halladale Flows). During the Inquiry, the Trust will probably address:-
the siting and design of the wind farm
the selection of viewpoints
cumulative effects on wider views
visual (as well as cumulative and sequential cumulative visual) effects upon residents, recreational and business users of the hills, roads, estates and promoted paths within the vicinity of the proposed development site
the Environmental Statement assessment of wild land and methodology used to assess the sensitivity of receptors, the magnitude of effects and the consequential significance of effects.
the tourism and recreational benefits of Wild Land, and
the potential adverse effects on those benefits from the loss of wild land.
Based on the earlier stages of wild land mapping and planning policy at the time the original application was submitted, the Trust, owing to limited resources decided not to submit representations.
A Trust spokesman explained: “However, with the newly confirmed planning policy position, the Trust now wishes to advise Ministers of its updated view on the application. “The Trust considers that a new assessment of wild land effects is required in the light of the recently confirmed new National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3), and Scottish Planning Policy 2 (SPP2), alongside Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH)’s 2014 Wild Land Areas (WLAs) map and advice to the Scottish Government. Within that mapping, Wild Land Area 39 is of major significance to the application.
“We also believe that in that new assessment of wild land, the developers need to consider the current rate of loss of wild land and the cumulative effects of wind farms, in say a 60km radius, on the remaining wild land in that area.”