Caithness villagers say no to '˜ring of steel' wind farms

More than 1,000 people oppose plan for giant turbines. Picture: John Devlin

Villagers from the far north coast of Scotland have travelled to Edinburgh to deliver a petition against plans to build two giant wind farms in a region known for its dramatic scenery.

Locals fear the schemes, which together comprise 38 turbines of up to 140m tall, will have a “devastating” impact on the village of Reay and the Caithness countryside.

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There are also concerns over the potential threat to important native wildlife, including nesting golden eagles.

The county has benefited from the popularity of the North Coast 500 driving route, which has brought an influx of visitors.

But residents say Reay will become a ghost town, encircled by “a ring of steel”, with tourists put off visiting due to the number and scale of turbines blighting the landscape.

The 72mw Limekiln and 51mw Drum Hollistan wind farms, both to be sited close to the village, would come on top of three existing developments in the area and would be visible for miles around.

Retired solicitor Gilian Macpherson, who organised the petition, has gathered 1,500 signatures.

Now she has made the 550-mile round trip to the Scottish Parliament to deliver it in person to local MSP Gail Ross.

“The North Coast 500 route has been very successful and is promoted on the basis of the stunning coastal scenery,” she said. “The proposed wind farms would destroy the beautiful views and all incentive to travel the north coast route.”

The proposal for Limekiln was previously refused planning permission by Highland Council, but was later resubmitted and linked with the Drum Hollistan application.

A decision is now awaited from Scottish ministers.

Mrs Macpherson says local people feel their views are being treated with “complete disrespect and contempt”.

She said: “There is a growing and deep bitterness in the wider population of Caithness that this county is sufficiently remote and distant from Edinburgh for our opinions and economic welfare to be disregarded.

“The policy of the Scottish Government appears to be that power should be in their hands to overrule decisions by planning authorities and ignore the wishes and interests of the electorate.

“There is a general feeling of resentment evident in all parts of Caithness at the plethora of wind farms imposed on this small county.”