N.A.W (NO ARDTARAIG WIND FARM)
OFFICIAL LEGAL OBJECTION
TO: ARLENE KNOX (SENIOR PLANNING OFFICER)
AND TO: ARGYLL & BUTE COUNCILLORS
AND TO: MEMBERS – PPCLS COMMITTEE
AND TO: MEMBERS – COLINTRAIVE AND
GLENDARUEL COMMUNITY COUNCIL
PLANNING LAND USE AND POLICY STATEMENT
- SETTLEMENT STRATEGY
We consider that this proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of the SPP (2014); Scottish Government Specific Advice Sheet on Onshore Wind Farms and Policies LDP 1 Development within the Development Management Zones, LDP6 supporting the Sustainable Growth of Renewables and LDP9: Development Setting, Layout and Design of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan.
The Site lies within a Group 2 location in terms of the proposed spatial strategy to satisfy SPP, which is one of significant protection where any development would be expected to demonstrate that any significant effects can be substantially overcome by siting, design or other mitigation.
This Application must therefore be considered against the criteria set out in Policy LDP6 which are derived from SPP.
The turbines, hard standings, ancillary development and new access tracks will be located in very sensitive countryside, and therefore subject to the effect of LDP policies LDP DM1.
This proposal raises considerable concerns regarding its landscape and visual impact.
- LOCATION, NATURE AND DESIGN OF PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT.
This proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of the SPP (2014); Scottish Government’s Specific Advice Sheet on Onshore Wind Farms and Policies LDP DM1 Development within the Development Management Zones, LDP6 Supporting the Sustainable Growth of Renewables and LDP 9: Development Setting, Layout and Design of the Argyll and Bute local Development Plan.
The proposal seeks the construction of seven (7) wind turbines on land located immediately northwest of Cruach Nan Cuilean; and east of Stronafian Forest immediately north of the B836, and adjacent to the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area, on the Cowal Peninsula.
The proposal includes the following elements:
Erection of 7 (seven) turbines each of 136.5m (447.9 feet) in height to blade tip.
Turbine foundations for each turbine of an undetermined depth (dependent on each foundation location on the site and sub-strata composition); each foundation being of 17.5m (57.4 feet) in diameter; comprised of stone and concrete.
One substation/control building/battery storage area of approximately 818 sq m (8,829 sq.ft) on a site of 1980 sq m (21,310 sq ft).
4 Borrow pits (quarries) of varying sizes to excavate over 100,000 tonnes of rock.
Associated roadworks of 5.5km;
Hard standings of 1832.59m (19,719 sq ft) for each turbine for a total hard standing area of 12,824 sq m (138,037.5 sq ft)
Total land take of 13.685 ha or 33.816 acres
Peat excavation of over 164,000 cubic meters. (Ref. E.I.A.)
The scale of these turbines in such a prominent and sensitive location would not be appropriate due to the identified adverse landscape and visual impacts.
- NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
This proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of SPP (2014); Scottish Government’s Specific Advice Sheet on Onshore Wind Farms and Policies LDP DM1 Development within the Development Management Zones, LDP 6; Supporting the Sustainable Growth of Renewables and LDP 9; Development Setting, Layout and Design; Supplementary Guidance SGLDP ENV, 12 Development Impact on National Scenic Areas and SG LDP ENV, 13 Development Impact on Areas of Panoramic Quality of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan 2015; the Argyll and Bute landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study (2017); and ‘Guidance on Siting and Designing Windfarms in the Landscape’ Scottish natural heritage (2014).
Landscape impacts can be considered in terms of the disturbance, damage or loss of individual features of landscape character – including streams, woodlands and open moorland. Landscape character is a fundamental starting point for assessing whether landscape is suitable for assimilating wind energy development successfully, without giving rise to unacceptable impacts upon the countryside.
The ‘Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study’ March 2012 (LWECS)/ (2017) has been produced by SNH in association with the Council to identify those areas in Argyll which are likely to have capacity for wind turbines of various sites, and those areas which do not have capacity either as a consequence of their particular qualities, or as a result of having no residual capacity given previous turbine consents. While this study only addresses landscape considerations, since it has been approved by Council it is a significant material consideration in subsequent decision-making.
In the context of the LWECS, the turbines that are featured in this application would fall within the definition of ‘Large’ as they are to be 7 at a height of 136.5m in height to blade tip.
For the purposes of the LWECS, the application site is located within the Landscape
Character Type (LCT) known as ‘Steep Ridgeland and Mountains’. This upland landscape
comprises steep-sided, craggy topped mountains and sharp ridges deeply cut by the long
narrow sea lochs of Cowal. There is ‘high’ landscape sensitivity to such ‘Large’ structures.
We note that SNH makes the following comments in relation to Landscape Effects:
“The receiving landscape’s overall high landscape and visual sensitivity is confirmed by the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study (2017) (LWECS). This report categorises the receiving character type (Steep Ridgeland and Mountains (1) as being of the highest sensitivity in the regional combined sensitivity score for Argyll and Bute. For this landscape character type the LWECS (Ref LWECS, Main Report, p33, 4.3.5) states: “there is no scope to accommodate turbines ˃50m high as additional new developments within this landscape without significant effects occurring on a number of key sensibility criteria”.
These hills are notable rugged forming distinctive ridges, increasing their sensitivity. Sensitivity is heightened due to the close proximity to the valued NSA designation, and their location within the APQ. These hills are especially important in providing a wider backdrop to the NSA and are highly visible from the NSA. This skyline is currently not noticeably affected by built structures. It is perceived visually as a semi-natural northern boundary to the NSA. The wind farm would change this important landscape characteristic due to the location of the turbines on the defining ‘ridge’, their prominence, scale, colour and movement. The proposal would create a new, competing focus on the horizon which would detract from the existing composition and the focus of the Kyles. They would also intrude on the views and setting of the coastal fringes of the NSA, including spectacular panoramic views over the Kyles from the A8003. In our opinion, the wind farm would significantly detract from the dramatic scenery and setting of the NSA. The special qualities of the APQ would also be diminished by turbines sited on this visually prominent hill.
The proposal will impinge on the setting and views of the highly sensitive landscapes of the NSA and the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTNP). In our view, these landscapes have the least capacity to accommodate the effects of wind farm development due to their valued semi-natural undeveloped character, high intervisibility and open views, undeveloped skyline, sense of remoteness and tranquillity, scale, complexity and their richly diverse and highly scenic composition. This area is valued is valued for its scenic qualities, accessibility by road and sea, popularity for sailing and the recreational experience and sense of seclusion it provides.
We do not concur with the findings of the ES in relation to landscape character and the effects of the proposal. The ES does not adequately address landscape character and sensitivity. For example, we consider the area where the proposal located is of a higher sensitivity than the Medium sensitivity concluded in the ES. This is partly due to the close proximity of the site to smaller scale, richly diverse and highly sensitive landscapes; in particular the NSA and LLTNP, the important backdrop these hills provide to the NSA and the high visibility from roads, the shore and the sea, and also popular hill views”.
The outer edges of this character type are highly visible from roads, settlement and from the Firth of Clyde, the narrow Clyde Sea Lochs and from Inverclyde. The Stronafian Peninsula is particularly important in providing a wider backdrop to the Kyles of Bute NSA and is highly visible from the NSA and from Bute. The elevated views will be possible from popularly accessed mountains within Argyll & Bute and the adjacent Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Visual sensitivity must therefore be judged to be ‘high’
Within this landscape type, the constraints are as follows:
Rugged and often highly complex mountains and narrow ridges with slopes rising steeply from sea lochs and glens and patterned with craggy outcrops.
The high visibility of the southern Cowal Peninsulas in view from the well-settled Firth of Clyde basin and Bute, long views up the fjord of Loch Striven from Bute and the sea, and the steep-sided mountains at the head of Loch Fyne.
The close proximity of the Loch Lomond National Park and the Kyles of Bute NSA where wind farm development could affect some of the special qualities of these designated landscapes and key views to and from them.
Elevated and close views from the hills within Cowal and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National park which are popular with walkers.
Skyline ridges which contain settled glens such as Glendaruel.
The LWECS concludes that there is no scope to accommodate larger turbines within this landscape without significant effects occurring on a number of key sensitivity criteria.
We note in the SNH objection, specific mention of the Kyles of Bute NSA Sensitivity Assessment:
It states very clearly that:
“This is a small NSA with much of the designated area visible from key viewpoints along roads and within settlement. Key sensitivities include the complex rugged landform and intricate coastal features including buildings, small pastures and woodlands which would be adversely affected by wind turbines. Turbines could also detract from highly scenic views over the Kyles and North Bute from the A8003 and the sea and this limits scope for development. Overall sensitivity is high for both small and small-medium typologies.
The operational Cruach Mhor wind farm is located relatively close to this NSA and visible from some limited areas. Any extension to this development could increase the extent of visibility and potential intrusion on the NSA. Cumulative effects could occur if additional large scale developments were sited in the uplands which provide the under setting to the NSA (both mainland of Argyll and Bute, on Bute or on the hills of the distant Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park which backdrops key views south down the eastern Kyle from the A8003”.
The application site is located approximately 1.77km to the north and east of the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area (NSA). This is a small NSA where the sea is the focus combined with islands, straits, promontories, steep ridges and bluffs, flats and bays, resulting in a dramatic and scenic composition. Narrow sea channels converge at the northern end of Bute, contained by steep hill slopes and the Cowal Peninsulas. There is high visibility of the area from key viewpoints, partly due to the openness of views across and from the water and due to the small extent of the NSA.
We consider that the proposed 7, turbines (each of 136.5m in height) would impinge on the highly sensitive landscapes of the NSA. These landscapes have the least capacity to accommodate the effects of wind farm development due to their valued semi-natural character, high inter-visibility and open views, undeveloped skyline, sense of character, sense of remoteness and tranquillity, scale, complexity and their diverse and highly scenic composition. This area is also valued for its accessibility by sand and sea, popularity for sailing and recreational experience and sense of seclusion it provides.
The skyline at the northern boundary of the NSA is perceived as semi-natural and is currently not noticeable affected by built structures. The planned wind turbines would change this important landscape characteristic, in a dramatic manner, due to their location on a defining ‘ridge’ their prominence, scale, colour and movement. This proposal would create a new, large scale focus on the horizon which would detract from the existing composition and the focus of the Kyles. For these reasons the proposed wind farm would significantly detract from the dramatic scenery and setting of NSA.
We consider therefore that the siting of the proposed 7 turbines (each of 136.5m in height) in such a prominent location and height (installed at 100m elevation) would exert a disproportionate influence over the receiving environment, where they would appear to be out of scale with their landscape context. The scale, location and motion of the wind turbines would adversely affect the highly sensitive area of panoramic quality, which is recognised for its regional value and scenic qualities and the nearby Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area, which is of national significance on the basis of outstanding scenic interest.
- We do consider it important to note those comments noted in the refusal of planning application 15/02060/PP (August 24, 2016) by the Argyll and Bute Council and the legal grounds relating to such refusal. Such decision sets a significant legal precedent and such matters considered therein would apply to a far more significant degree in this case where the turbines are more numerous (7) high (136.5); and occupy a site which is high (100m); and will be much more visible and have a greater negative impact in relation to the Kyles of Bute NSA.
(D) VISUAL IMPACT
We consider that the proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of SPP (2014); Scottish Government’s Specific Advice Sheet on Onshore Wind Farms and Policies LDP DM1 Development within the Development Management Zones, LDP6 Supporting the Sustainable Growth of Renewables and LDP 9: Development Setting, Layout and Design of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan; Supplementary Guidance SGLDP ENV12 – Development Impact on National Scenic Areas; and SG LDP ENV13 – Development Impact on Areas of Panoramic Quality of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan (2015); the Argyll and Bute Landscape ‘Wind Energy Capacity Study’ (2012); and ‘Guidance on Siting and Designing Wind farms in the Landscape’ Scottish National Heritage (2014).
Visual impact relates to the proposals visibility and its impacts on views, as experienced by people. In determining the proposals visual impact, the layout of the wind turbines has been assessed from key viewpoints. Visually sensitive viewpoints include those where there are views to or from, designated landscapes; however, sensitivity is not confined to designated interests. Visually sensitive viewpoints can include those which are frequently visited by people (such as well-used transport corridors, tourist roads, or are frequently visited by people, settlements where people live, other inhabited buildings or viewpoints which have a landscape value that people appreciate (and which they might visit for recreational pursuits or areas for hill walking, cycling or education).
In order to assess the visual impact, the application has assessed a series of viewpoints to reflect the distinction and sensitivity of receptors. It is accepted that photo montages can only give a relative scale of the proposed turbines in relation to the surrounding landscape.
Specific viewpoints noted in EIA and impact as stated by the developer: (Ref EIA Table 9.6)
Viewpoint Distance to nearest Turbine Significant Effect More limited effect but still noticeable 1 Footpath – Dunoon- Lochstriven, Ardtaraig Estate
Yes 2 B836 east of Stronafian
Yes 3 Glendaruel, minor road, Cowal Way, North of Caravan Park
Yes 4 Cowal Way East of Garvie
Yes 5 A886 north of Ardnachuple Farm
Yes 6 Minor Road West of Glendaruel
Yes 7 Cruach nan Caurach
Yes 8 A8003 Kyles of View Viewpoint
Yes 9 Beinn Mhor
Yes 10 Cowal Way Loch Riddon
Yes 11 Kyles of Bute
Yes 12 Beinn Ruadh
Yes 13 Glen Striven road north of Ardyne Point
Yes 14 ‘b’ road car park by Blairs Ferry South of Kames
Yes 15 McInroys Point Gourock
Yes 16 A844 Bogary Point Rothesay, isle of Bute
Yes 17 A83, East of Meall Mor
18 B8024 West of Inverneil
Yes 19 Aran, Lochanza Pier
Yes 20 Isle of Bute Balnakailly Circuit
It is important to appreciate that the developers’ own analysis relating to certain key viewpoints indicates that the development will have a significant/major effect on 15 viewpoints and still be noticeable on the remaining 5, thus leaving a significant negative effect in relation to visual impact. It is important to recognise that all key viewpoints are affected with no potential for mitigation.
SNH, as a significant statutory consultee, has opposed this proposal and states:
“The ZTV (Zone of Theoretical Visibility) indicates the proposal will potentially be visible from a wide range of news from within and to the NSA. The proposal is very prominently sited on a ridge providing the immediate setting to the NSA. The proposal will significantly intrude on the defining skyline which encircles and usually contains the northern end of the Kyles of Bute area, an important component of many of the areas’ views and panoramas.
Areas of visibility of the proposal often coincide with areas enjoyed for recreation frequented by both visitors and residents in particular the popular and highly scenic landscape of the Kyles of Bute NSA, key approach rates and popular hill views from part of the adjacent LLTNP. The turbines will impinge on and detract from views from a range of key viewpoints on the shores including potentially scattered settlement, key routes, hill views and also from the water, popular for recreation. These effects would be the greatest, but not limited to, within 10km of the proposal.
Significant adverse effects include:
Views from the waters’ edge including potentially scattered settlement (no assessment viewpoints) as represented by, for example, VP10 (Cowal Way).
Water based views as represented by, for example, VP 11 (Kyles of Bute NSA) where scenic coastal views are strongly contained and channelled towards the wind farm by the steep sided hill slopes. The wind farm is framed and would become the focus of the view. The Kyles of Bute area (Loch Riddon / Ruel / Kyles) are very popular for recreational sailing and sea kayaking with anchorages at Caladh Harbour, Salthouse and Ormidale (Craig Lodge) and sailing schools nearby. The proposal would appear prominent on the skyline of hills which provide the wider setting to these seascapes. This would be experienced by, for example – recreational water users on the narrow channels of the Kyles/Loch Ruel where the coast is highly visible.
Views from parts of key routes including the A8003 / NCR 75 and A886, B836 and the promoted Cowal Way Long Distance Route, which lies close to the coast as represented by, for example VP8, 2, 5 and 10.
Key views from elevated locations including Creag Dubh, the NTS viewpoint (layby off the A8003) as represented by, for example, VP8. The proposal will appear prominent and incongruous on the skyline.
Hill views popular with walkers eg Cruach nan Caorach as represented by VP7.
Views of the NSA from near the boundary are also significantly affected including south of Kames as represented by VP14.
VP2 – B836 a key approach to the NSA from Dunoon and elevated views in the LLTNP including popular hills as represented by VP9 Beinn Mhor. These views are important in providing residents and visitors an appreciation of the richness of this scenic landscape.
Views from the northern end of Bute as represented by VP20 are also adversely affected and may be underrated in the EIS”.
The 2016 decision by the Argyll and Bute Council in relation to Planning Application 15/2060/PP (August 24/2016) quotes the SNH as follows:
“Stronafian community wind farm is contrary to the strategic pattern of wind energy development and would introduce large wind turbine development to the views and northern setting of the NSA. Currently no wind energy development is sited within the NSA and wind energy development does not significantly impact on the immediate setting of the NSA. While the operational Cruach Mor wind farm (35 turbines each of 71m to blade tip) on north Cowal (c 6km), has some limited theoretical visibility from the NSA; it is not noticeable and does not intrude into the key views and setting of the NSA. This is largely due to its location in a basin, set back from the NSA and the coast. Existing and approved wind farms presently visible in Ayrshire from the NSA are more than 20km away. The proposal could therefore set a precedent for further development of this type and scale in this sensitive landscape setting which provides an immediate backdrop and setting to the Kyles of Bute NSA. This could potentially result in significant cumulative effects, including sequential effects”.
These comments are significant and provide key reasons why, in the case of this proposal, it should not be allowed, as this proposal is of a scale and magnitude which clearly will have a significant effect on the visual landscape, and be particularly damaging to the relatively small, yet unique, NSA.
E. CUMULATIVE IMPACT
In terms of this proposals’ anticipated cumulative impacts, it is considered that the proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of the SPP (2014); Scottish Government Specific Advice Sheet on Onshore Wind Farms and Policies LDP DM1 Development within the development management zones, LDP 6 supporting the sustainable Growth of Renewables and LDP 9; Development Setting, Layout and Design of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan; Supplementary Guidance SG LDP ENV 12 – Development Impact on National Scenic Areas; and SG LDP ENV 13 – Development Impact on Areas of Panoramic Quality of the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study (2017); and Guidance on Siting and Designing Wind farms in the Landscape Scottish Natural Heritage (2014).
- Cumulative impact can have significant land use planning implications, particularly in relation to noise, visual, elevation, landscape, ecological and hydrological impacts.
- There are a number of other windfarms within a 22km vicinity and others planned:
Name Turbines Size/Height Distance from proposed development 1 Cruach Mor
2 A Cruach
3 An Suidhe
5 Alit Deary
6 A Cruach 11
The developers own EIA states:
“The proposed development would contribute to the perception of a ‘landscape with wind farms’ in this location, where wind farms become one of a number of key characteristics in the landscape…”
The wording “… one of a number of key characteristics in the landscape…” is misleading. In our opinion it would become (along with the existing but less visible Cruach Mor windfarm) the key characteristic of the landscape – all of which lie adjacent to the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area.
SNH is clear in its objection to this proposal when it states:
“… The proposal could therefore set a precedent for further development of this type and scale in this highly sensitive landscape setting. This could potentially result in significant cumulative effects, including sequential effects. (4/Oct/2018 – Consultee Report – SNH).
A potential scenario, if this proposal was to be approved, could give rise to:
– The extension of Cruach Mor wind farm with additional smaller, but more likely larger
– The extension of the proposed wind farm with large turbines, (in excess of the 7 proposed
– Stakis Forestry LLP has proposed to purchase the solum (land) of the Stronafian Forest.
(There is only one reason to own the Solum – the development of additional turbines).
Accordingly, we believe there is considerable credence to the fact, that this proposal would set a precedent for ongoing wind farm development which would degrade and destroy the NSA.
F. ECOLOGICAL IMPACT
We consider that the proposal is inconsistent from the point of view of ecological interests, with the provisions of Policies LDP Strat 1: Sustainable Development LDP DM1: Development Within the Development Management Zones and LDP 3: Supporting the Protection, Conservation and Enhancement of Our Environment LDP 6: Supporting the Sustainable Growth of Renewables and LDP 10: Maximising Our Resources and Reducing our Consumption of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan 2015; and Supplementary Guidance SG LDP ENV 1 – Development Impact on Habitants, Species and Biodiversity.
A project of this magnitude and size will have a significant short and long term impact on the ecology. This proposal calls for, inter alia, the establishment of 4 borrow pits (quarries); the excavation of over 100,000 tonnes of rock; the excavation of 164,000 cubic meters of peat; 5.5 kilometres of road works; significant areas of hard standing and many kilometres of cable trenching. Additionally, the actual turbines themselves and their operation will have a negative impact on the ecology of the area.
Habit types are primarily modified bog (171.77 ha) and blanket bog (124.11 ha) – and both are particularly sensitive to disruption generally and hydrological disruption specifically.
The EIA states: “The proposed development has been designed to minimize impacts on important habitats or protected species as far as practicable” (Ref EIA 11.1.7). In legal and scientific terms this has little, if any, meaning. The fact is that a significant ecological disturbance will occur which will have lasting effects.
- With respect to peatland and its characteristics as a natural CO2 ‘sink’ we believe the E.I.A. has not addressed adequately the potential damage caused and negative ecological effects on peatland disruption.
It is considered that in terms of ornithological impact this proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of the Habitats Directive (EU Council Directive 92/43/EEC; Conservation Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994, Protected Species Regulations (Ref. Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981).
G. ORNITHOLOGICAL IMPACT
As SNH states in its objection to the proposal, the risks to birds relate to:
“ Direct habitat loss through construction of wind farm infrastructure.
Displacement (sometimes called indirect habitat loss), if birds avoid the wind farm and its
surrounding area due to turbine construction and operation. Rarely, displacement may also include barrier effects in which birds are deterred from using normal routes to feeding or roosting grounds:
Death due to collision or interaction with turbine blades and other infrastructure”.
According to SNH the proposal states that the survey methodologies have not been carried out in accordance with guidance.
– SNH also states: “… with respect to turbines 5, 6 and 7 there are only 11 months of VP survey work. These turbines are only covered from VP4 which was only used from Dec 2014 – Nov 2015 with no survey in October. This is well below our recommended requirements given the species present and it is likely that use of the southern end of the site by target species (especially raptors) will have been under-recorded with potential knock-on impacts on the collision risk modelling (CRM) predictions.
(c) Golden Eagle. This site lies on the periphery of 4 Golden Eagle ranges:
(i) The most informed parties in relation to the use of this area by Golden Eagles is the Argyll Raptor Study Group it states:
“ … The conclusions reached (by the EIA) underestimate the use of the area by other eagles attracted to the ridge and open moorland. The extent of the home range is shown in Fig 2 No 2 of the Annex also demonstrates that there has been considerable activity of the bird classified as the resident female well within the territory of the pair occupying the Loch Striven Area and within 2 km of an active nest”.
….It goes on to state:
“The presence of a sub-adult bird also indicates the importance of this area (on the margins of several territories) as a foraging area until it reaches the stage for finding a vacancy in the breeding population. Accordingly, we consider that this development would result in the loss of valuable foraging area affecting several Golden Eagles and that they are entitled to the protection of the EEC Habitats Directive”. (Ref: Argyll Raptor Study Group – Objection Letter – 17/09/2018)
(ii) Foraging Area Issues
– It should also be stated that while there is considerable eagle activity in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site, there are at least 4 identifiable nests (eagle pairs often have several nesting sites which they use intermittently) on both the east and west side of the upper reaches of Loch Striven. The nest last used by the resident eagle pair being located on the west side of Loch Striven, only 3 km from the proposed site.
– Equally important however is access to proper foraging areas. We can advise that the Glen Striven Estate shall be planting significant areas of conifer as part of their woodland planting program and approximately 350-400 ha are now subject to a woodland creation plan – thus diminishing further the foraging area. (Ref. Approved Forestry Scheme 16FGS076149 – Glean Beay / Loch Striven at Invercholain).
– Accordingly, the diminution of the Golden Eagle foraging area – by the proposal along with the effects of new woodland creation, cannot be mitigated and therefore represents a direct threat to a protected bird species.
(iii) Collision risk from VP data (SNH objection letter Oct 4, 2018)
– NHZ14 currently has a minimum of 51 occupied ranges and population modelling suggests that it would take around 1-1.5 additional eagle deaths a year form collision to risk putting the NHZ population into decline.
“…. the limited VP survey of turbines 5, 6 and 7 will likely have underestimated risk”.
– New conclusive studies now show that with respect to ‘displacement’, as raptors seek to avoid wind farms. Wind farms have been shown to act as apex predators. This study found for times more birds of prey in areas without turbines. “By reducing the activity of predatory birds in the area, wind turbines effectively create a predatory free environment that causes a cascade of effects on a lower trophic level”. (Ref. Nature, Ecology, Revolution Digest – “Wind Farms can act like Apex Predators in Ecosystems” – Maria Thanker/Amod Zambre / Haishal Bhosale Nov 5, 2018).
(d) Ground Nesting birds (Hen Harrier and Short Eared Owl)
This area is important to both Hen Harrier and Short eared Owl. Habitat disruption will occur and the SNH states that while collision risk is low it has been potentially underestimated due to the limited survey from VP4 around turbines 5, 6 and 7.
- Black Grouse
SNH indicates that some lek sites are very close to turbines and closer than the set-back distance they would recommend. According to various reports the black grouse lek site in the proposed wind farm location is one of last of two in Argyll.
The SNH states clearly that as a result of new consented wind farm applications for Upper Sonochan, Blaghour; A H Rubha (Inverneill); Airigh (Carse); Clachaig Glen; Killean Escart, the cumulative effects from collision to golden eagles are around 1 bird/year in the NHZ and new proposals offering golden eagles will need to be rigorously assessed.
H. HYDROLOGICAL AND HYDROGEOLOGICAL IMPACT
We consider that in terms of hydrology and hydrogeological impact, the proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of: Policies LDP STRAT 1: Sustainable Development, LDP DM1: Development within the Development Management Zones and LDP 3: Supporting the Protection, Conservation and Enhancement of our Environment of the Argyll and Bute Local Development plan 2015.
The site is located within the catchment of the Thamhnich Burn and the Balliemore Burn.
We consider the proposed development stands as a risk to the area in relation to both the hydrological and hydrogeological aspects and particularly as it relates to contamination of drinking water supplies and contamination to ground water generally. Crucah Mor was found to both disrupt and contaminate drinking water supplies to homes in upper Glendaruel and Balliemore (head of Loch Striven). We note that the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust has made a number of representations to develop ‘forest crofts’ on that portion of the Stronafian Forest adjoining the Thamhnich Burn. Any contamination therefore of drinking water supplies to this area; and the local residents who currently take their drinking water supplies from these watersheds would be unacceptable and a contravention of SPP, The Groundwater Daughter Directive (2006/118/EC); the Priority Substances Directive (2008/105/EC); the Water Environment on Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003; and the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011.
It should also be stated that little or no research is available in relation to groundwater contamination by hydrocarbon discharge (oils/transmission fluids) from the turbines themselves.
(I) BORROW PITS
See comments relating to Ecological Impact, intra, p12).
(J) CULTURAL HERITAGE IMPACT
It is considered that as far as tourism interests are concerned, it is considered that the proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of the SPP and Policies LDP STRAT 1: Sustainable Development; Protecting, Conserving and Enhancing Our Outstanding Environment together of the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan 2015.
(K) TOURISM IMPACT
The E.I.A. states that: Tourism and recreation around the NSA focuses on the natural environment with visitors general being transient in nature. Key receptors include the Cowal Way Long Distance Route, National Cycle Route 75, Regional Cycle Route 94 and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The main effects would result during the operation of the proposed development from visibility of the turbines. It is expected that whilst there may be localised pockets of significant visibility, the overall experience of visitors and recreational users would not be significantly affected by the proposed development.
We strongly disagree. We believe that the proposed development will have the following negative effects on tourism, by affecting the ‘outdoor’ experience of many potential tourist visitors to this highly scenic and wild area. The lack of objective windfarm development thus far next to the NSA has meant that the NSA remains non-degraded, and tourism – whether land or sea remains a key draw for tourists to the area. We note that the Colintraive/Tighnabruaich area adjacent to and part of this NSA bills itself as Argyll’s Secret Coast!
As the SNH indicates objection to this proposal.
“This is a small NSA where the sea is the focus combined with islands, straits, promontories, steep ridges and bluffs, flats and bays, resulting in a dramatic and scenic composition. Narrow sea channels converge at the northern end of Bute, contained by steep hill slopes and the Cowal peninsulas. The appreciation of this dramatic composition will be adversely affected by the proposal as it would distract from the focus of the Kyles…” (Ref. 04/10/2016 SNH).
“.. in these views, turbines located in a prominent hill above the Kyles, forming the backdrop to the NSA and immediate containment to panoramic coastal views of the NSA would detract from the scenic coastal edge and create a competing focus”.
“.. the proposal would change the character and perception of the defining ridge as a semi natural boundary to the NSA detracting from this highly scenic composition. It is also likely to compromise the enjoyment and experience of the landscape in particular the recreational experience and the sense of seclusion.
In other words, this very special location, will be compromised to the extent that it would have an effect on sustainable tourism and deprive the community of economic benefits associated with same.
The SNH objection also gives into detail how key tourist areas and viewpoints would be adversely affected.
The developer states that …. “ No significant effects have been identified as part of this assessment and as a result there is no requirement for mitigation”. (Ref 6.8.1 EIA).
The fact is that you cannot mitigate the very damaging effect on this superb natural area next to the NSA of 7, 136.5m turbines, located at on average 300 m (984ft) above sea level on a mountain ridge, with the resulting effect of total dominance on the landscape, and skyline with a combined land elevation and turbine height of 436.5m (1,432 ft).
The Argyll and Bute Economic Forum Report (2016) indicates that the long term economic future of this unique area will be both land and marine tourism.
While there are various surveys and reports relating to whether tourists are discouraged from visiting areas where wind farms predominate, or form a significant part of the landscape we can advise as follows.
95% of all visitors / tourists polled during the period August 10, 2018 – October 20, 2018 were opposed to this proposal on the basis that it would deter them from visiting the area. *
99% of all marine users surveyed (Loch Striven; Kyles of Bute; Toward; Tighnabruaich) were opposed to the proposal on the basis that it would deter them from visiting this special area. *
92% of all cyclists surveyed (B836 route only) were opposed to the proposal on the basis that it would deter them from visiting the area. *
* Poll/Surveys Aug 20 – Oct 20, 2018 / Documentation filed with Argyll and Bute Planning re: 18/01516/PP).
We note for the record that the Scottish Wild Land Group, in their objection to the proposal stated:
“ Adverse impact on wild land tourism, the Cowal Peninsula is widely regarded as undiscovered by mainstream tourism, but this is changing. The Cowal Way, which runs very close to this site, is perceived by many to be scenically superior to the West Highland Way – which is used by 80,000 people annually. The Cowal Way has huge potential to attract similar numbers and recent investment in the route is very likely to increase use. The local area is also popular with paddlers and other water sports enthusiasts – it features in the Scottish Canoe Classics which lists the arguably best 25 canoe routes in Scotland.
We urge the Committee to be cautious about parties claiming wind farms do not impact tourism. We accept that wind farms do not affect city / urban tourism, but Visit Scotland research in 2011 found that, overall, 17% of Scottish and 18% of UK respondents would be discouraged by the presence of a wind farm. A You Gov Survey in 2013 (when wind farms were more prevalent than in 2011) on behalf of the Scottish Renewables found that 26% were discouraged. This evidence obviously has the potential for economic impacts in the local area”.
(Ref. 12/09/2018 Argyll and Bute Planning App 18/01516/PP documents as filed).
Similarly, ‘Save Cowal’s Hills’, has also objected to the proposal on the basis of its potential to damage the tourism industry, jobs and landscape. (Ref. 17/09/2018 Argyll and Bute Planning App documents as filed).
(L) NOISE AND AIR QUALITY
It is considered that in terms of noise and air quality, this proposal would be inconsistent with the provisions of Policy LDP 6: Supporting the Sustainable Growth of Renewables of the Argyll and Bute local Development Plan 2015; and Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region (2018).
- There are three quite distinct types of noise sources emanating from wind turbines – the mechanical noise produced by the machine; the aerodynamic noise produced by the passage of the blades through the air; and infrasound (or inaudible noise) created by low frequency sound.
Recently, the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region have been issued to provide guidance in protecting human health from harmful exposure to environmental noise.
These guidelines accept new and significant evidence which recognises.
Evidence of cardiovascular and metabolic effects of environmental noise.
New noise sources, specifically wind turbine noise
A standard approach to assess evidence
A systematic review of evidence to define the relationship between noise exposure and risk of health outcome; and
Use of long-term average noise indicators to better predict adverse health outcomes, compared to short term noise exposure measures.
- We note from table 8.3 (EIA chapter 8 – page 17) a chart of predicted noise levels. Predicted noise levels can vary considerable from actual noise levels.
We can confirm that two of the homeowners of homes noted – (Colbruach and Hillhouse) by Infinergy for ‘sound’ tests – had such tests were cancelled (ref. email records 2017). We also note that homes in two key settlements were not noted in these charts: those homes (10) located at Achnabreck and Stronafian – which are well within significant predicted noise level areas, as they have less physical terrain (topographical) barriers between them, and the proposed wind turbine.
- Wind Turbine Infrasound
Infrasound is below the frequency of human hearing (less than 20 hz) and emanates from the pressure wave created by the motors of the turbine. The low frequency wave length (som) sound wave diminishes in power much more slowly with distance than high frequency audible sound. It can travel 7km and the larger the wind turbine, the greater the infrasound produced.
Its negative health impact is often referred to as (‘land sickness’), and a significant and growing body of evidence is now available confirming its damaging effect on human health.
This proposal of 7 large turbines (136.5m) in height will be generating significant levels of infrasound with a potential of causing harmful health effects on any individuals who reside up to 5-7km distant from the turbines. The EIA does not consider infrasound.
M. SHADOW FLICKER & ICE THROW (EQUIPMENT SAFETY)
N. TELEVISION RECEPTION
O. AVIATION MATTERS
It should be noted that as a result of the proposed turbines height – warning lights will be required on each turbine conforming to MoD requirements which means on a 24/7 basis the turbines will be utilising such light warning systems. Such flashing light requirements will be distinctly noticeable during non-daylight hours: The E.I.A. states:
“In light of consultation with the MoD and in the interest of safety the applicant agrees to fit the proposed Development with MoD accredited aviation lighting” (Ref. 18.7.3 EIA).
MOD expects wind turbines of this size and scale to have:
Infra – red (IR) Lighting
Visible Lighting either of
– 25cd or 200cd flashing red lighting;
Corner lighting on larger wind farms;
(Ref. Royal Air Force/MOD Obstruction Lighting Guidance 21 November 2014).
A wind farm of this size and scale therefore will cause significant light pollution, as apart from infrared lighting, flashing lights on each turbine will be required.
P. ELECTRO MAGNETIC INTERFERENCE TO COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
Q. ROAD TRAFFIC IMPACT
S. GRID NETWORK AND CABLES
T. SOCIO – ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY BENEFIT
It is considered that the socio-economic and community benefit in relation to the scope of the proposed wind farm is not sufficient to override key aspects of SPP which are legally required to be adhered to.
The SPP requires planning authorities to consider the economic benefits of proposals in their assessment.
It is important to note that the immediately affected community – Glendaruel in particular, and Colintraive, secondarily, regardless of perceived socio-economic and community benefits, do not support this proposal (Ref. 362 individual objection letters; and 507 petition objection signatures; against 55 supporting letters). The affected communities, overwhelmingly DO NOT consider the economic and community benefit to be significant enough to support this proposal. Records indicate 55 support this proposed development and 869 object to this proposed development.
The Col-Glen Community Council has chosen to take a neutral position on this matter for the stated reason that the 2015 Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust proposal, in relation to planning application 15/02060/PP – “split the community” and caused long term division and animosity within such community. Community Councils are legally obligated to abide by the majority of their constituents’ views.
The Applicant is proposing to include a community benefit package of up to £147,000 annually (ie £5000/MW). What the Applicant has not disclosed in their EIA is that they have also proposed that this ‘Community Fund’ be distributed between several communities:
– South Cowal
According to the Applicant (Ref. letter to Colintraive and Community Council Sept 3, 2018); the ‘Community Fund’ is to be distributed on the basis of 60% to the Colintraive and Glendaruel Community; and 40% to the other communities noted above based on their land mass.
This means that the Colintraive and Glendaruel Community would accrue £88,200 / annum. WE note that the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust Planning Application 15/02060/PP for two turbines of 2015 projected £2.8million over 20 years or £140,000 / annum.
From a Community Fund perspective therefore, this proposal would not have contributed financially to the community as much as the former proposal, which was rejected by the Community and Council.
Precedents have now been established that Councils can review potential health impacts on communities. As evidence grows in relation to the harmful health effects (and the scientific community and international community have now confirmed the validity and scientific basis of such negative health implications). Grounds have now been established from which legal action may be taken against both developers and public authorities, by citizens who can establish that their health has been negatively affected and they have suffered as a result, either economically, because they cannot work, or otherwise. The cost to a community, or public authorities cannot be quantified at this time but we do believe this will be a developing trend from a litigation perspective.
Precedents have also been established that wind farms can affect home value – the closer your home is to a wind farm the greater its drop in value [Ref. London School of Economics – 10 year study (2014)]. To this extent, we are beginning to see applications by aggrieved home owners to public authorities for reductions in Council taxes (Ref. Aberdeenshire Council/ Oct / 2018). We believe there will also be claims against wind farm developers and public authorities for the diminution of home values.
These growing precedents in (e) and (f) above do need to be considered in the context of “Socio Economic and Community Benefit”. The floodgates of litigation will open. It is just a matter of time, and there is no defence under European Human Rights Legislation, to matters where citizens have been deprived of either their health, or their right to quiet enjoyment of, and value of their home, without compensation.
(a) The applicant indicates that the operational period will be set at 25 years (unless further permission is sought and granted) and, upon cessation of wind turbine operations, the turbines will be decommissioned, dismantled and removed. Very little decommissioning detail is provided.
(b) It should be noted that fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) composites are used to produce wind turbine blades. They are not easy to recycle and often end up in landfill. This will be an ongoing problem. (It should be noted that in 2014, Germany had to deal with 54,000 tons of waste from non-recyclable waste from rotor blades) [Ref. Kalma Oroschakoff / 2/23/2018 “Wind Towers Make For Big New Problems”].
(c) 80% of the nacelle (the casing atop the tower) can be recycled – gears, drive shaft, generator and transformer) – but 20% cannot be recycled.
(d) The foundations (concrete / rock / steel re-bar) can be broken up and potentially re-processed for different uses – butt for recycling cost reasons may end up in landfill.
V. SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT POLICY AND ADVICE
It is considered that this proposal is inconsistent with the provisions of the SPP and the Scottish Government’s Specific Advice Sheet on Onshore Wind Farms
SPP provides the government’s policy position on planning matters having regard to national priorities with the intended outcomes identified reflecting strategic visions set out in NPF 3. An underlying theme is that of sustainability, a principle which has been accorded enhanced priority in this iteration of SPP through the introduction of a presumption in favour of development that contributes to sustainable development. Whilst statutory privacy of the development plan in decision making is not undermined by this policy pronouncement, the intention is that other than in circumstances where there are adverse impacts which would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the winder policies in this SPP (Para 33)’.
It is our opinion that, based on the application of SPP, and having due regard to all the evidence that indeed, with respect to this application the adverse impacts significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of this proposed development.
Paragraph 29 of SPP sets out principles by which decisions should be guided. Those relevant to this case are securing economic benefit and good design, supporting delivery of energy infrastructure and climate change mitigation, and protecting the historic and natural environments and the amenity of existing developments. In terms of development in rural areas, SPP recognises the need to secure development which protects the character of the particular area and to support business whilst protecting environment quality.
As with the stance adopted in NPF3, the support for wind farms as a component of the renewables sector is not unqualified. Sustainability has to be considered in the round and developments which may benefit the wider environment may come at a price which is too high in terms of their more localised consequences for the receiving environment.
Support for wind farms as a means of expanding the proportion of electricity produced from renewable resources is qualified by the need to have regard to the extent of local environmental impacts and whether they amount to ‘adverse impacts which would significantly outweigh the benefits when assess against the wider policies in this SPP’. (Para 33).
This proposal is considered to have an adverse impact in regard to landscape and visual considerations. It is also considered adverse to the ecological and ornithological issues. We also consider that an approval of this proposal could establish a harmful precedent for the erection for further wind turbines of an inappropriate scale for their sensitive countryside locations.
It is considered, after our review of the E.I.A., and applicable Scottish Planning Policies, and other applicable legislation, guidelines and regulations, as noted herein, that this Planning Application, 18/01516/PP is inconsistent with same and should be refused.