Plans to nearly double the size of a Caithness windfarm were rejected by councillors yesterday because of its impact on the “main tourist route” in the north.
The Forss Windfarm in Caithness, owned by renewable-energy giant RES, is located on part of the former US Navy site at Forss, between Thurso and Dounreay.
The company was first granted planning permission in 2001 for two turbines and they became operational two years later.
In 2006, permission to add four turbines to the site was granted.
Yesterday, however, plans to extend the windfarm for a second time by a further five turbines were recommended for refusal by a planning officer because of the effect on landscape and visual amenity, which he found “unacceptable”. Highland Council’s planning review board agreed following a site visit.
Councillors debated for several hours before deciding unanimously to reject the proposal because of its detrimental effect on visual and landscape amenity.
Committee chairman Councillor Thomas Prag said last night: “This was in effect a proposal to double the size of a windfarm which has already been extended once.
“This would have been a further extension and members were concerned, particularly because it is so close and very visible from the main tourist route in the north of Scotland.”
RES development project manager Graeme Kerr said: “This is a huge disappointment, not only for RES but for the Caithness community. Forss Windfarm already makes an important contribution to the security and sustainability of Scotland’s energy supply, as well as bringing economic benefits to the community.
“The additional five turbines we proposed would have brought further benefits such as jobs for people and an increase in funding to the current community fund which is in place.”
He added that the company now planned to consider its options.