A CONTROVERSIAL wind farm planned for south of Inverness looks set to be rejected by Highland planners because it would visually impact on the A9 tourist route.
Campaigners who believe the 13-turbine development on hills at Lairgandour, Daviot, would be a blot on the landscape are pleased council planning officials are recommending refusal under delegated powers.
The application submitted by West Coast Energy in January was met with widespread opposition amid claims the 115m high turbines could distract drivers on the main A9 Inverness-Perth trunk road.
A petition was set up and concerns were voiced by local community councillors.
Pat Wells, convenor of Strathdearn Against Windfarm Developments, said the development would have a "horrendous" impact on visual amenity.
She is pleased it will be determined under delegated powers and hopes it will avoid a repeat of what happened with another wind farm proposed for Moy, which received approval by the Scottish Government.
She said in that case, applicant Carbon Free Developments appealed to the government because the council missed the four-month deadline for making a decision on the 20-turbine scheme.
She said: "I don’t think there was any other choice but to use delegated powers. If the developer wasn’t willing to wait until the next planning meeting in August, they would have gone straight to the ministers at the Scottish Government as happened with the Moy development, which would mean it would go through.
"I’m pleased Highland Council are recommending refusal. If they didn’t it would contravene their own policy, as it would have a visual impact on the A9 corridor.
"It would be visible not just from the southbound carriageway, but also from the northbound direction, affecting people coming into the Highland capital. It would be horrendous."
In order to refuse the application using delegated powers, Highland Council planners require the agreement of local councillors for the procedure.
After being contacted by the HNG, Inverness South councillor Ken Gowans, said: "I am in favour of green energy – who would not be – but there are places for wind farms and places not for wind farms.
"My understanding is that council officers feel that this application contravenes the Highland-wide Development Plan and have recommended refusal under delegated powers.
"I am also aware of the strong views expressed by the community councils of Strathdearn and Strathnairn regarding this development."
Fellow Inverness South councillor Jim Crawford added: "Highland Council planners have already intimated they’re going to propose refusal under delegated powers as it’s against the new adopted Highland Council plan in that it impinges visually on the A9 tourist route.
"It was meant to come up at committee but we ran out of time and if it was coming to committee now, it wouldn’t do so until August and that’s not fair on the people of Daviot who have had this threat hanging over them for a year.
"There was no support locally for this development, the residents would be jumping for joy if it’s refused."
The application has received 145 objections and 74 statements of support.