Report by Iain Smith
Comhairle nan Eilean’s planning policy has been criticised this week following the council’s planning committee’s refusal to grant planning permission for the erection of a domestic wind turbine at Bornish in South Uist.
The criticism comes from Mr A P MacDonald who wanted to erect a domestic turbine on his croft at 13 Bornish – but was refused permission after the MOD objected.
According to the report that went before the committee on Tuesday, the MOD objected to the application on the grounds that the turbine would cause unacceptable interference to the Air Defence radar at South Clettraval, North Uist.
The applicant’s agents claim that the MOD’s submission contradicts earlier advice they received from a former Royal Navy Commander and air traffic controller, Shane Savage, of Wind Farm Aviation Consultant’s Ltd. He said said that there “can be no operational impact on the MOD Air Defence or MOD justification for the objection on the Air Defence Radar.”
They also maintain that, during a visit to Qinetics Rangehead HQ an employee ( a Range Tracking Officer), confirmed to them that the current Type 92 Air Defence radar could not detect small turbines. However, when contacted by the Comhairle senior Qinetic sources denied that was the case.
This issue was further complicated by the fact the Comhairle approved Mr MacDonald’s initial application in November of last year.However that decision was subsequently quashed at the High Court in Edinburgh after the MoD took it to a judicial review.
Now, after being rejected for a second time, the applicant, Angus Paul Mac Donald, expressed his frustration over the MoD’s objections and his disappointment at the committee’s decision.
He claimed that the council’s planning policy on wind turbines is both inconsistent and biased against local people. He said: “I feel very let down by the Council on this matter as I feel that they have failed to take my opinion and the opinions of other experts who supported us, into account before they made their decision. The council can claim that it up to the applicant to disprove the MOD’s position – but when we do – our information and arguments are dismissed.”.
He continued: “There is no consistency in the council’s planning decisions on wind turbines. How, for example, can the council approve two applications for turbines in North Uist, which are much closer to the Clettraval radar than my turbine would have been, and yet refuse me permission?”
Mr MacDonald has said that he intends to appeal against the committees decision.