Caithness Spittal Hill wind farm plans rejected

Wind turbines Spittal Hill Wind Farm Ltd suggested building 27 to 30 turbines on the site

The Scottish government has rejected plans for an onshore wind farm for the first time in four years.

Spittal Hill Wind Farm Ltd's proposal to construct up to 30 turbines in Caithness received 1,546 letters of objection and 1,268 letters of support.

Highland Council had objected to the Spittal project and a public inquiry was held to examine the scheme.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said it would have a negative impacts on nearby properties and views of the landscape.

Noise from the turbines could potentially have been heard from residents in 89 properties within 1.2 miles (2km) of the site, the inquiry held in Halkirk last year heard.

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The area already has Causeymire, Flex Hill and Achairn wind farms, while one at Camster has planning consent and another farm has been proposed for Halsary.

Spittal Hill Wind Farm Ltd had sought permission for 30 turbines - 27 of them 110m (360.8ft) high and three of them 100m (328ft).

In February 2011, the company suggested an alternative development of 27 turbines.

Mr Ewing said Scotland had "enormous potential" for renewable energy, which could benefit jobs and communities.

He said: "I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy - but not at any cost and we will ensure a balanced approach in taking forward this policy, as we have in the past and will in future.

"The Scottish government wants to see the right developments in the right places

"Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable.

"The impact of this proposed wind farm on the landscape, and the impact it would have on the homes of those who live closest to it, is too great."

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