Highland councillors urged to revisit wind farm decisions

John Muir Trust writes to Highland Councillors urging them to object to Glencassley and Sallachy wind farms in light of new planning policy.

The John Muir Trust has written to members of the Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee asking them to lodge objections to Glencassley and Sallachy in Sutherland in the light of new national planning policy guidelines and the publication by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) earlier this year of an official Wild Land Areas map of Scotland.

In May 2013, the committee decided not to object to the two proposals after planning officials pointed to uncertainty in the Scottish Government’s attitude to wild land protection from wind farms.

Since then, the Scottish Parliament has approved a new National Planning Framework that states: ‘We also want to continue our strong protection of our wildest landscapes – wild land is a nationally important asset.’

In addition Scottish Planning Policy 2014, agreed by the Scottish Government, explicitly states: 'Plans should identify and safeguard the character of wild land as identified on the 2014 SNH map of wild land areas.'

The boundaries of the proposed Glencassley and Sallachy wind farms both lie entirely within Wild Land Area 34 (Reay-Cassley). And in August 2014, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing refused an application for a similar wind farm at Glenmorie in Easter Ross because of unacceptable visual and landscape impacts.

“The national planning regime has changed since the council last considered these proposals,” said the Trust's policy officer John Low.

“Where there may have been some confusion in the past, there is now clarity. If these schemes were allowed to go ahead, 48 turbines, each three times the height of the Skye Bridge, would be scattered across an area officially mapped and defined as wild land.

“The integrity of the entire Wild Land Areas map would be compromised, and the commitments to wild land protection in the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy would be rendered worthless.

“We are now urging councillors to reconsider both applications in the light of the spirit and content of new national planning policy and guidance.”

UPDATE:- See our follow-up letter to the P&J following the Highland Council meeting on our Glencassley and Sallachy web page.