Flow country wind farm petition delivered to Scottish Parliament

Retired Caithness resident makes 550-mile round trip to deliver 1500 signatory petition objecting to Limekiln and Drum Hollistan proposals

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A retired solicitor has made a 550-mile round trip to present a 1500-signature petition to the Scottish Parliament urging rejection of two large-scale wind farms on the edge of the famed Flow Country in the far north of Scotland.

Reay resident Gilian MacPherson – accompanied by John Muir Trust Head of Policy Helen McDade – presented the petition to Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Gail Ross, who will deliver the petition to Scottish Government Minister Paul Wheelhouse. The fate of the two controversial applications – at Limekiln and Drum Hollistan – is now in the hands of the Energy Minister.

Helen McDade, who grew up in Caithness, said: “Gilian has worked tirelessly, alongside Reay Area Windfarm Opposition Group (RAWOG), to alert local residents to the devastating impact these proposed developments would have on the special qualities of this landscape. The number of signatures she has obtained is testament to the depth of concern locally to these proposals.”

The Trust was part of a broad coalition of objectors, including RAWOG, who gave evidence at the Public Local Inquiries in February 2017 into the proposals. The Limekiln application is for 21 turbines, up to 139 metres high; the Drum Hollistan application is for 17 turbines of up to 140m.  A similar application at Limekiln was rejected by the Scottish Government Minister following a PLI in 2014.

As well as impacting significantly on Reay residents, the two developments would have significant visual impacts on the adjacent nationally-important wild land at East Halladale Flows, characterised by the extensive low lying peatland of the Flow Country.  This is a landscape described by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as having “an awe-inspiring simplicity of landscape” and a “strong sense of solitude”. It is also, according to SNH, “a remarkably open landscape with extensive visibility, meaning tall or high features in the distance are clearly visible.” 

 “The contribution which healthy peatlands make to reducing carbon emissions is very significant,” said Helen McDade. “Moreover, either of the developments would profoundly alter the landscapes and seascapes around this area. The special scenery across the Flow Country and the Pentland Firth contributes to the attraction of the North Coast 500, which has been an important boost to the local economy. We would urge the Minister to take note of the groundswell of local opposition to these applications and refuse consent.” 

Gail Ross said: "I was delighted to meet with Gillian today to accept the petition she and colleagues have gathered asking for the Scottish government to reject the application for a windfarm at Limekiln and Drum Hollistan, Reay.  As I explained to Gillian, I have not taken a position for or against this application as I have constituents presenting me with arguments from both sides, but as constituency MSP I am happy to receive this petition and will pass this on to the Minister."