Cowal wind farm back on Bute’s agenda?

Energy company PNEwind UK is to hold a drop-in information day in Dunoon after being awarded exclusive rights by the Forestry Commission Scotland to investigate the feasibility of new onshore wind energy projects within the Tay, Cowal and Trossachs Forest Districts.
Energy company PNEwind UK is to hold a drop-in information day in Dunoon after being awarded exclusive rights by the Forestry Commission Scotland to investigate the feasibility of new onshore wind energy projects within the Tay, Cowal and Trossachs Forest Districts.

The prospect of a wind farm being built on the Cowal hills, directly to the north of Rothesay Bay, is back on the Bute agenda.

PNE Wind UK, a subsidiary of a German wind farm developer, has been awarded exclusive rights to investigate the feasibility of new on-shore wind energy projects in the Tay, Trossachs and Cowal districts of the National Forest Estate - and is moving forward with plans for a wind farm at Bachan Burn, near the 419-metre Corlarach Hill in south Cowal.

The firm - which is offering a ‘community benefit’ of £250,000 to those living in the vicinity of the site - is to hold a drop-in session at the Queen’s Hall in Dunoon on Wednesday, October 2 to give members of the public the chance to ask questions of company representatives.

In a statement, PNE Wind UK’s communications manager Katie Newlands said: “PNE Wind UK is delighted to be moving forward with plans to develop the Cowal and Trossachs Forest Wind Farm – Bachan Burn.

“By working in partnership with FCS we feel that we can bring forward the most appropriate proposals for this location, and offer a number of unique opportunities for community involvement.

“I would encourage local residents to pop into our event. Whilst our plans are at a very early stage it will provide the opportunity to meet the team and learn more about our forthcoming public consultation process.”

Dunoon resident Philip Norris, a long-standing opponent of wind farm developments in the area, told The Buteman he was surprised to learn of a new proposal for the Corlarach site.

“I read this with some incredulity,” Mr Norris said, “since just four years ago a similar proposal for 14 giant turbines on much the same site was decisively rejected, following a thorough public local inquiry (PLI) held in Dunoon, which lasted almost a week.

“I recall that Scottish ministers upheld the reporter’s findings, which concluded with remarks such as ‘The proposal fails under criteria relating to impacts on communities, scenic quality and general amenity, tourist routes, and the prime tourist attraction of scenic quality’ and ‘It is conventional, and clear from relevant literature, that wind farms are in general not expected to be treated as enhancements to rural or coastal landscapes’.

“In my view it is a pity that PNE Wind could not change their renewables focus to micro hydro (or even marine power) - much more effective and reliable forms of renewable, which do not seriously transform and blight landscapes.”

The previous application for Corlarach, made by West Coast Energy Ltd, was turned down by Argyll and Bute Council in January 2008, and an appeal against refusal was rejected by Scottish ministers in May 2009.

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for a separate wind farm project on nearby Black Craig was also rejected by Scottish ministers, in September 2009.