News Update 06/04/2014

Strathglass Community Council Does a U-turn………

At its meeting on February 20th, the Strathglass Community Council undertook to give its support to our Beinn Mhor Wind-farm No Campaign if 200 or more local sign-ups were obtained. The following are extracts from the minutes of that meeting:

–          We were advised that HC would give most weight to individual, locally addressed letters of objection (or support) or a properly run ballot. A list of names or a petition would carry least weight with the planning committee. There is no point in writing to HC to object until the planning application has been lodged.

–          It was agreed that if the ‘No Campaign’ could collect the names of 200 Strathglass residents as evidence that the majority of local opinion was against the proposed development, no ballot would be required.

(The figure of 200 was based on a total adult population in the Strathglass Community Council area of approximately 400).

On March 10th, ‘Glen Affric Friends Say No’ wrote to the Community Council to advise  that the 200 Strathglass members had been achieved. Since then, the local adult membership has grown to 222 and our total membership is 445.

At its meeting on April 3rd, based on some input and hearsay from a small group of supporters of the proposed Beinn Mhor development, Strathglass Community Council reneged on this commitment and voted to have a ballot before deciding its position. We were surprised and extremely disappointed by this u-turn. Unsurprisingly, the group of supporters at the meeting was led by the land-owner who stands to make millions of pounds in rent if the development goes ahead.

As a result of this, one Community Council member has already resigned.

As a group, we have serious concerns about the Community Council’s ability to run a comprehensive, robust and controlled ballot and we will keep you informed off progress.

At the April 3rd meeting it was also reported that the Community Council had received a letter from a company called Wind Prospect Developments 2 Ltd advising that this company was actively investigating the feasibility of a ten x 126.5 meter (413 feet) turbine development at Kerrow, between Beinn Mhor and Cannich. Another local land-owner is obviously jumping on the gravy train and we should not be surprised if there are more to follow. It looks as if our No Campaign will be busy for some time to come!

Trees for Life – A Lesson In Hypocrisy

We have obtained a ‘Statement of Concern’ by the charity Trees For Life expressing their serious reservations and promising to formally object to the proposal by E.ON Energy to construct a second wind farm in Glen Moriston.  Given that TFL’s base is at the nearby Dundreggan Estate and their 25 year history in conservation work these concerns come as no surprise and we certainly support their views – as we fully support the local ‘No Moriston Wind Farm’ campaign.

However what TFL have been less keen to promote is a deal they have struck with WPD the company behind the Beinn Mhor Wind Farm proposal.  For years TFL developed  numerous conservation projects in Glen Affric with regards to restoring the Ancient Caledonian Pine Forest funded mainly by the Forestry Commission and through charitable donations.  However since Dundreggan was purchased and Glen Affric became less of a ‘cash cow’ TFL’s principles appear to have literally ‘gone with the wind.’

A formal arrangement between TFL and WPD means that if the Beinn Mhor Wind Farm gets approval then TFL will receive in excess of £20,000 per annum purportedly to fund a full time employee in conservation work.  Given this situation then we must anticipate that TFL will not be objecting to the Beinn Mhor propsal and will not be supporting our campaign.

In the statement Mr Alan Watson Featherstone, Executive Director TFL makes a number of points in relation to visual impact, unsuitability of roads, threats to wildlife and makes the point, “…it is imperative that the views of the local community about this proposed wind farm are taken account of.”

We feel that whatever standards Mr Featherstone applies in Glenmoriston the same should also apply in Glen Affric and as such we are calling on TFL:

  • To withdraw from this financial arrangement with WPD
  • Support the Glen Affric Friends Say No Campaign
  • Issue a similar Statement of Concern regarding the Beinn Mhor proposal
  • Object to any planning applications submitted by WPD in relation to Beinn Mhor

The Trees For Life ‘Statement of Concern’ can be downloaded in pdf format here.