Petition Closed
Petitioning Highland Council Planning Department

To Reject Planning Application 15/01261/FUL Tresdale Wind Farm Ltd, Evie, Orkney.

We are a local action community group set up to oppose the building of a Wind-farm at Tresdale near John O Groats, in Caithness, Scotland.

I object for the following reasons:

1.   The proposed turbines would be out of character and scale with the landscape of which Canisbay forms a part, and would not in any way serve to preserve or enhance it. The character of some villages can in part be defined through their relationship with their surroundings. In villages such as Canisbay, this relationship is more important than in others; the proposed development would have a disruptive, defining influence on the character of this area, both from within it and in views of it from the wider landscape, changing its small farms and crofts landscape to one defined by the presence of wind turbines which dominate the highest ground in the vicinity.


2.    The proposed turbines would be out of character with the scale of Canisbay village and its buildings, and would degrade visual and residential amenity and quality of life for all its residents and workers. School children would have a direct view at work and play; at the very least, an unhelpful distraction from their work. 


3.    The proposed turbines would be too near all of the village properties and the Dispensing Surgery and Primary school. All these properties would be within 1120m of turbine 3 (with many considerably closer), well inside the much-publicised planning guidance of 2km separation, and within the cast-off distance of blade fragments. Nobody could reasonable argue the necessity of locating wind turbines so very close to people's homes and places of work, study and recreation; possibly of even greater concern where people are congregated in relatively large numbers, eg at the Surgery, school, Hall and in the field SE of the Hall where the Canisbay Show is held.


4.    Tourism is crucial to the local, and national, economy. The proposed turbines would degrade the tourism potential of the area, particularly from the main tourist roads, the Gills ferry, the National Cycling Network path through Canisbay and the ‘End to End’ walking route, and would certainly not enhance the continuing effort and investment in re-developing the tourism potential of John O’Groats. The proposed route for windfarm traffic, including abnormal turbine assembly loads, into and out of Tresdale even goes along a Core Path, which would then permanently emerge into a windfarm.


5.    Canisbay has already been sandwiched between two major Industrial projects; Stroupster wind farm to the south and Meygen Tidal scheme with its 24 hour drilling operation to the north. Caithness already has 288 large onshore wind turbines built or approved, with 326 offshore, and 385 more in the planning process. Paragraph 169 of Scottish Planning Policy 2014 identifies cumulative impact as one of the considerations applicable to windfarm proposals, recognising that in some areas the cumulative impact of existing and consented energy development may limit the capacity for further development. The cumulative impact of such out-of-scale developments on this unique landscape is becoming overwhelming.


6.    Loss of property value would occur, as well as potential to sell property in the area, reflecting people's unwillingness to live in the vicinity of windfarms. Anticipated village growth would be curtailed; already two house builds in Canisbay are on hold, for fear of this proposal being approved. This would be a permanent loss to the local economy, above and beyond the loss to local building contractors; the loss would be scarcely mitigated by a few short-term low-skill job opportunities such as might be offered by the construction of 3 turbines - which would be manufactured, monitored and maintained from a considerable distance, if not overseas. 


7.    Many residents would suffer from the Flicker effect of the turbine blades, particularly during early spring when low winter sun through south-facing windows is a useful source of free heating. We note the derisory offer of free blackout curtains by the developer, but residents shouldn't have to live in partial blackout during daylight hours in order to accommodate windfarm developers.


8.    Audible AM noise from the blade rotations would be a source of major annoyance for many residents.


9.    The growing body of evidence of harmful effects from infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) from wind turbines is of grave concern. ILFN cannot be mitigated as audible noise can. Wind developers' dismissal of the widespread evidence of such harm is in itself alarming; it was decades before industry was required to take seriously the detrimental effects of audible noise, by which time far too much damage had been done.


10.   Visual (as well as aural and ILFN) nuisance would continue into the evening and night, since the MOD's acceptance of the proposal is conditional on turbines 1 and 3 being fitted with omni-directional flashing red lights.


11.    The burden of construction traffic necessary to the construction task, particularly the abnormal turbine assembly loads which would need to pass through the village in front of the primary school, is unacceptable. The roads are barely passable for such large vehicles, and the junction by Canisbay Church and Hall would require alteration that would encroach onto Church or private property. An important fact to note is that a great deal of the older houses, and prominent buildings such as Canisbay Church, old Manse, ex-SYHA, Victoria Villa etc which lie along the proposed route, are built on shallow spreader stone foundations, which would make the buildings vulnerable to the vibration effects of such heavy traffic.


12.    The detrimental visual and audible impacts from a development so close to people's homes would make them unpleasant places to live, in the short, medium and long term; such a situation is precisely what planning law is put in place to prevent. The visual impact on local road users cannot be ignored.


On the spatial framework map for Caithness and Sutherland from the consultation paper Spatial Planning for Onshore Wind Energy in Highland 18/2/2015, the land proposed for these turbines falls within the area designated an "area of significant protection", as opposed to an "area with potential for wind farm development". I ask that this community be protected from the threat of this proposed development.


Such modest benefits as might be anticipated in terms of short-term job opportunity or net contribution towards renewable energy targets are substantially outweighed by the significant landscape, visual and residential impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the proposed development, which is therefore contrary to the terms of Highland-wide Local Development Plan Policy 67.


According to planning guidance (the document Onshore Wind – Some Questions Answered 5/12/2014): "The identification of an operational lifespan, commonly spanning 25 years for wind turbines, should NOT be used as a mitigation for negative impacts arising from the operation of the wind turbine. This is to ensure that developments which will be in place for an inter-generational length of time are appropriately sited and designed to have acceptable impacts". It could not reasonably be argued that the impacts of the proposed development would be acceptable.


I urge the Council to reject this proposal and so prevent the residents of the area having to suffer from yet another industrial complex being imposed upon them.


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