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Application for a wind farm at Kintradwell - Decision issued - Refusal


On 03 November 2023 the Scottish Government gave notice that consent as been refused on the Kintradwell wind farm application. Extracts from the decision letter:

"The Scottish Ministers consider that the proposed Development would create significant adverse landscape and visual effects which cannot be mitigated and these would outweigh any benefits that would be derived 
from it.

"Even taking into account the significant support assigned by NPF4 [National Planning Framework 4] to the proposed Development and its status as national development, the significant adverse landscape and visual effects on the character of landscapes including the Rounded Hills – Caithness & Sutherland Landscape Character Type and the distinctive character of the East Sutherland Coast and the Loch Fleet, Loch Brora and Glen Loth Special Landscape Area ultimately leads the Scottish Ministers to the conclusion that despite the many factors in favour of the proposed Development, this is not the right development in the right place and the proposed Development is therefore not acceptable overall."

"The Scottish Ministers therefore consider the Application for consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 for the construction and operation of Kintradwell Wind Farm, wholly within the planning authority area of the Highland Council, should be refused."

The full Scottish Government decision letter can be found at this link.

Proposed wind farm at Kintradwell - planning history

03 November 2023 - Scottish Government refuse permission on the grounds of Landscape and Visual impact

February 2023 Final Written Submissions by all parties to the Public Local Inquiry

01-04 November 2022 Public Local Inquiry, Brora

On 16 November 2021, The Highland Council, as relevant planning authority, objected to this application. 


The planning application was lodged with the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit in 2021 and our communities were invited to comment on the Kintradwell scheme which includes 15 turbines of 149.5m to tip and an installed capacity of 63MW. It will be 1.7km south east of the Gordonbush wind farm but at a much higher elevation.


Proposed wind farm at Kintradwell - details of the application


In 2001, The Highland Council (THC) identified Loch Fleet, Loch Brora and Glen Loth as an Area of Great Landscape Value.  In 2009 citations were drawn up in order to understand the special qualities of such areas, now known as Special Landscape Areas (SLAs), and the possible impact of future development.  In 2010 the SLAs were confirmed and adopted into the Highland Wide Local Development Plan. The boundary of our SLA is shown on the linked map where you will see that the proposed wind farm is in its heart. 


Our community has fought hard since the mid 90’s to preserve the SLA and our coastal hills from intrusive development.  To date we have succeeded, and the pattern of development has been to preserve the coastal ridgelines.  The existing wind farms at Gordonbush and Kilbraur are behind the ridge, more discreetly sited to preserve views from our coastal communities, the A9 and points across the Firth, and are outside the SLA.


This application is different, with larger turbines at much higher altitudes on the top of the ridgeline, they will overlook Brora from the north west and will also be clearly visible from the A9 and from Embo, Dornoch, Portmahomack, the hills of Rogart, Kinbrace and points even further afield.  This development will have a wide visual impact on the coastal scenery of this part of East Sutherland. The turbines would be located on Col Bheinn (as would the borrow pit), between Meallan Laith Mòr and Càrn Garbh and on Meall à Phiobaire.


Within Brora itself wherever there are views of the hills, turbines will be seen partially or totally.  The areas which will be particularly affected and will have clear views will be Victoria Road, Lower Brora, The Doll, Dalchalm, Ladiesloch, Clynelish, Brora Golf Course and our glorious beach.  New substantial uphill tracks totalling 13.5km will be required to service the development which will also be partially visible, scarring the current uniform moorland cover.  A large new access is also proposed from the A9 between Kintradwell Lodge and the farm steading on a rising section of the A9 where the sight lines are poor.


Loth Residents


Loth Residents are a constituted independent group of local residents formed in 2012, originally in opposition to the effect on the SLA of the development of a wind farm at West Garty, a Section 36 application which was refused on 19 October 2018, following a local public inquiry. 


The proposed Kintradwell site is approximately 7 km west south west of the West Garty site on the same chain of hills, in a very similar position in relation to the coast and within the same Special Landscape Area (SLA).  Our group’s fundamental purpose is to protect the northerly portion of the Loch Fleet, Loch Brora and Glen Loth SLA and the distinctive local coastal landscape. The group represents over 400 residents covering the settlements of Brora and Helmsdale, their associated outlying rural areas and a number of concerned regular repeat visitors.


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