Plans for the UK’s biggest community wind farm have received a setback, with an objection submitted on behalf of a neighbouring national park.
The Cove Community Wind Farm would see five 92-metre turbines sited above Loch Long, facing part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Members of the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust offered to share the money raised – estimated at up to £400,000 per year – with villagers in Strone, Blairmore and Ardentinny.
But yesterday (Monday) members of the national park’s planning and access committee voted unanimously to lodge an objection to the plans with Argyll and Bute Council – against the recommendation of their officials who said it would have a ‘moderate adverse impact’.
A spokesperson for the park authority confirmed:
“Members unanimously agreed to submit an objection to the application as the proposal would have a significant adverse visual impact on the landscape setting of the southern aspects of the national park from the Firth of Clyde, Loch Long, the communities of the Cowal Peninsula and the southern marine gateway to the National Park.
“The proposal will have a significant adverse impact on the residents and recreational / visitor enjoyment and landscape experience of the southern and western areas of the National Park.
“In addition, the National Park Authority requests Argyll and Bute Council to consider carrying out an economic assessment of the impact on tourism of the proposed development.”
Trust convener Murdo MacDonald was at the meeting, and said afterwards: “We are very disappointed that the national park planning committee did not agree with the opinion of their professional officers and overturned the recommendation of no response.”
The park authority report made clear that it did not take account of Argyll and Bute’s policies such as the landscape wind energy capacity study; it stated that although the turbines would have an impact on the landscape character of the area, there are already ‘intrusive built structures’ such as RNAD Coulport.
It concludes: “The national park has been consulted on the proposed wind farm and from involvement at the pre-application stage concerns have been expressed about he scale of the turbines and their appropriateness in regard to landscape character and their impact on visual experience of the landscape of the national park.
“However it is considered that the moderate impacts will be of a localised nature around the Cowal Peninsula and the landscape integrity of the wider national park will not be significantly affected.”
Councillor George Freeman, whose Lomond North ward includes the wind farm site, is a member of the committee which met on Monday but declared an interest and left the room as he is also member of the Argyll and Bute committee which will decide on the proposals.