Scotland Wind Farm Rejected

Scotland Rejects Wind Farm Proposal

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted June 19, 2012

The Scottish government, in a surprise move, rejected a bid to erect a 30-turbine wind farm in the Scottish Highlands.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing stated that he chose to turn down a proposal for a Spittal Hill wind farm near Halkirk in Caithness, following objections from the local Highlands Council. He further clarified that public opposition to the farm appeared valid given the potential effect on the views of local residents, as well as the fact that numerous turbines already are active throughout the region. However, Ewing reassured reporters that “Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland and I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy.” Defending his recent move, he added that “[Progress] won’t come at any cost and we will ensure a balanced approach in taking forward this policy as we have in the past and will in future.”

Scotland has set a target of achieving 100 percent harvesting of electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020. In April, the government approved a 370-megawatt Viking wind farm on the Shetland Islands. This was the 50th such project approved since 2007. At times, such approvals have come over the complaints of local residents objecting to the visual impact, noise, and other issues. However, the BBC reported, the recent denial of the 74-megawatt, $174 million Spittal Hill project was the first government rejection of a Scottish onshore wind power plan in the past four years.

Developers had originally proposed 27 turbines of 360 feet with three more at 328 feet. Despite many residential oppositions, local businesses strongly backed the proposal. They viewed the potential influx of $31 million into the local economy as an argument strong enough to justify the loss in natural views and other disturbances. As well, they pointed out the labor possibilities opened up by such a project.

Nevertheless, the Highland Council chose to side with the opposition. In closing, Ewing clarified, “The Scottish government wants to see the right developments in the right places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable. The impact of this proposed wind farm on the landscape, and the impact it would have on the homes of those who live closest to it, is too great."