The MSP for Argyll & Bute, Michael Russell, has written to Forestry Commission Scotland, urging them to withdraw their support for a planning application by PNE Wind for a large wind farm at Bachan Burn, overlooking the Firth of Clyde and Dunoon.
Mr Russell, a former Minister for Environment, has been in regular contact with the Forestry Commission on behalf of constituents for some time about the matter, and was instrumental in securing Forestry Commission representation at the public meeting about the wind farm proposal, which took place in March. Attendees of the meeting came out unanimously against the plan.
Commenting on the letter, Mr Russell said:
“I have the greatest admiration for the Forestry Commission and the work it does. and I know it has been listening carefully to the local debate about Bachan Burn. I remain convinced that there is little local support for the proposal, although I know that the developers have been undertaking an expensive telephone poll with a rather skewed set of questions, in order to try and prove otherwise.
“The reality is that this site has been refused twice before, not least because it sits in a very prominent position above the Firth of Clyde and would be an eyesore, not just for local people but also for travellers on the water and for those living on the other side of the Clyde.
“Many who support wind energy, as I do, think this is simply the wrong plan in the wrong place. Ironically, the site has considerable potential for small scale hydro-electric generation, but that potential is not being realised.
“There is also undoubtedly a strong local feeling that the Commission, as a Government body, should not be involved in such a controversial development. In addition, there are cost implications for many public bodies, including Argyll and Bute Council, if this proposal goes to a full inquiry and that waste of money could be avoided.
“The terms under which the Commission allowed this type of proposal to go forward also allows them to withdraw support at any time, and I am urging them to do so now. There is no need to prolong this matter as planning permission is almost certain to be strongly challenged by some of the statutory consultees, as well as by many others.
“I have asked PNE Wind to withdraw their application but they seem intransigent, so I hope the Commission will demonstrate better sense and bring this whole unfortunate matter to an end sooner rather than later.”