A 19-turbine wind farm in South Lanarkshire has been given the go-ahead by the Scottish Government.
But in the same announcement, the government has refused planning approval for Limekiln Wood wind farm in Caithness.
Developer Infinergy Ltd had planned a 24-turbine an onshore wind farm known at Limekiln wood, near the Dounreay atom plant.
Consent has been granted to PNE WIND UK to construct 19 turbines with an installed capacity of 64.6 megawatts (MW) at Kennoxhead, near Glespin in South Lanarkshire.
This is likely to benefit the local community by £8 million over the 25 year operating period. This money will be split between the South Lanarkshire Council Renewable Energy Fund and a dedicated local fund which will use the money in consultation with community groups.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing agreed with the outcome of the Public Local Inquiry (PLI) on Limekiln Wind Farm which said consent should be refused. He said:
“The wind farm in Kennoxhead will bring considerable benefits to the local community as well as having the capacity to power more than 30,000 homes. I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy, which will help to reduce climate emissions.
“We have been clear that wind farms can only be built in the right places, and that proposed developments are subject to strict planning laws. Our policy strikes a careful balance between utilising Scotland’s significant renewable energy resources whilst protecting our finest scenic landscapes and natural heritage.
“Each application is considered on its merits which is why I have refused permission for the proposed wind farm at Limekiln in line with the Reporter’s recommendation.”
The John Muir Trust welcomed the decision to reject the Infinergy wind farm application, adjacent to the East Halladale Flows Wild Land Area in Caithness.
The development would have led to the erection of 24 turbines up to 456 feet high, as well as foundations roads, tracks, transmission lines and other infrastructure in an area renowned for its unique landscape and ecosystem.
The scheme has been rejected because of its potential impact on the Wild Land Areas map, which was developed by Scottish Natural Heritage and underpinned by Scottish Government national planning documents in June 2014.
Helen McDade, Head of Policy for the John Muir Trust, said: “As someone who grew up in Caithness, I am delighted for the local community which campaigned strongly to protect the unique character of this landscape.
“But this is also a landmark decision of national significance. The refusal explicitly states that ‘significant weight should be attached to the policies protecting wild land’.
“Coming on top of last week’s decision to reject the Bhein Mhor wind farm application near Glen Affric, it sends a clear message to developers that Scotland’s wild land is a valued national asset which merits strong protection.
“The Scottish Government now has an opportunity to dispel all remaining doubts over the future of Scotland’s wild land by swiftly rejecting the three remaining applications for large-scale wind farms on wild land, at Glencassley and Sallachy in Sutherland, and Allt Duine in the Monadhliath Mountains.”
Renewable energy firm Infinergy said it is bitterly disappointed at the Scottish Government’s decision to reject its 24 turbine-turbine wind farm at Limekiln, south of Reay in Caithness on the basis of “insufficient information” relating to the East Haladale Flows wild land area.
Esbjorn Wilmar, Managing Director, Infinergy said: “Ministers have missed a huge opportunity to contribute to the renewable energy targets they themselves have set in Government.
“The announcement of this decision comes at a time where the onshore wind industry has been badly bruised with other recent negative UK Government announcements, including the removal of the LEC, the early closure of the ROC and the continued uncertainty around the CfD.
“This, combined with a hugely expensive and time consuming planning process, the outcome of which is entirely unpredictable and the fact that multi-million pound grid securities must be provided before planning consent is forthcoming, makes it now very difficult to provide a compelling business case to shareholders for further investment into renewable energy developments in the UK.”
Infinergy will now consider its options going forward with this project, and ‘may’ seek judicial review.