Spittal Hill Windfarm II Refused

On 12 May 2015 the second attempt to build a wind farm on Spittal Hill, Caithness was refused after appeal by Mr Timothy Brian, the Reporter appointed by the Scottish Government. Mr Brian's report can be read here.

Spittal Windfarm Opposition Group and local residents are delighted with the decision and after eleven years of campaigning hope this is now the end of the matter.

We want to thank all of the very many people who have shown their unstinting loyalty and support over the years. We couldn’t have done it without you! You did make a difference.

Spittal Hill has always been, and always will be, the WRONG place for a wind farm.

Spittal Hill Windfarm II
Refused by the Highland Council
(11 September 2014)

The second application to build a wind farm on Spittal Hill, Caithness has been refused by the Highland Council under delegated powers.

Spittal Windfarm Opposition Group (SWOG) is delighted with this decision which vindicates it's position that Spittal Hill has been, and always will be, the wrong place for a wind farm, no matter what the size or number of turbines.

A huge thank you goes out to all local people and those from further afield who, over the last ten years, have supported the campaign and worked tirelessly to save Spittal Hill from wind farm development.

SWOG hopes that the applicants, having been turned down for a second time, will now show the proper respect for the local democratic process by accepting this outcome and not lodging an appeal.

The decision notice can be read here and the full report here.

Spittal Hill Wind Farm


The deadline for submission of objections is now Friday 28 April 2014 due to the applicants submitting further environmental information
in the form of an addendum to the application

After only 18 months of respite following the Scottish Minister's refusal of the application for a wind farm on Spittal Hill, Caithness, the developers are back with another application for a wind farm of 7 x 100m turbines.

This new development is still too close to homes, will still dominate the landscape
and will add significantly to the already massive cumulative impact wind farms
are having on the Caithness landscape and its people. It is also likely that should
this get the go-ahead more turbines will be added later.

The massive public reaction against the initial proposal was instrumental in getting
it refused. You did make a difference. Please support us again and help us to get
this latest application refused.

We need as many people as possible to object
before the deadline of Friday, 28th April 2014.

Below are instructions on how to object.

1. Click on this link which takes you to the Highland Council's eplanning website page for this application. There you can view all of the documents if you wish and register your objection by clicking on the 'Make a Public Comment' button. Fill in the form, ensuring you give reasons for your objection and you select the ‘Object’ button in the area of the form labelled ‘Stance’. (We have prepared a list of reasons for objecting which you can copy and paste into your objection and which you can find at this link (Word file) or this one (PDF)).

Please note the following instructions from Highland Council eplanning -

When making comments, please be aware of the following:

Time-out when Making Comments
  • Once you have clicked on the 'Make a public comment' button, the page only allows 10 minutes to complete and submit a comment and will time out after this time.
  • To avoid any information being lost, we would recommend preparing your comment in advance on a Word document, then cut and paste it into the Comment section.
2. Send a letter or a copy of our objection form to –
eplanning centre, The Highland Council,
Glenurquhart Road, INVERNESS, IV3 5NX.
Please ensure you use the word ‘OBJECT’ in your letter (otherwise it is just treated as a comment), add the name of the wind farm and the application reference number 13/04559/FUL, put your name and address in block capitals and sign and date your letter.

3. Email your objection to eplanning@highland.gov.uk

Thank you

Spittal Hill II

After only eleven months of respite following the Scottish Minister's refusal of the application for a wind farm on Spittal Hill, Caithness, the developers -Tom and Stephen Pottinger supported by giant state-owned Norwegian utility company Statkraft - are back with another proposal.

This new development is still too close to homes, will still dominate the landscape and will add significantly to the already massive cumulative impact wind farms are having on the Caithness landscape and its people.

Local people together with Spittal Windfarm Opposition Group are determined to resist this imposition on their lives.

The massive public reaction against the initial proposal was instrumental in getting it refused. You did make a difference.

Please support us again and help us to get this latest opportunistic, money-making venture refused.

We will provide details and suggestions on this website for an objection for you to use when the application is submitted. (We can no longer use an online objection form as it clashes with Highland Council's e-planning system). However, you will be able to copy and paste into their objection form or into your own letter for sending. We expect the application to be submitted in August 2013 and will update the website as soon as new information is available.

Spittal Hill Wind Farm - Refused

After over a year's wait since the Public Local Inquiry held to consider the application in May 2011 the Scottish Government has announced that the application has been REFUSED.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing found that the impact of the proposed wind farm on the occupants of nearby properties was too high, and that the cumulative impact of the wind farm on views when considered together with existing and consented wind farms nearby, was too high.

Mr Ewing said:

'Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland, and 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 and 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.'

The decision letter and report by Reporter Mr Trevor Croft
can be found at this link

We would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported the Group's campaign over the last eight years. We could not have achieved this fantastic outcome without all of your help.

YOU DID make a difference!

Spittal Hill Windfarm

Public Local Inquiry

The Public Local Inquiry, before the Reporter, Mr Trevor Croft,
is to start at 10 a.m., on Tuesday, 3 May 2011
in the Ross Institute, Halkirk.

Click here to view the itinerary for the inquiry..

There is to be a more informal Hearing session on the evening of Wednesday,
11 May 2011 where people can come along and tell Mr Croft their concerns.
If you would like to take part in this please let us know.

Please come along to the Inquiry in order to show Mr Croft the level of opposition there is to this wind farm. It is our last chance to make our views known.

If you are able to make a donation towards our legal costs we would be very grateful. You can use the donate buttons or you can send a cheque made payable to
Spittal Windfarm Opposition Group to the Chairman, Spittal Windfarm Opposition Group, Upper Larel Farm, Halkirk, Caithness KW12 6UZ.

Thank you.

Please click here to donate

Demonstration by objectors at the foot of Spittal Hill, Sunday 13 June 2010

Spittal Hill wind farm proposal to go to Public Local Inquiry

On 22 June 2010 our Councillors voted unanimously to recommend to the
Scottish Government refusal of the application. The Government have now
asked for a Public Local Inquiry to be held into the matter.

Our group hopes to play an active part in the Inquiry in order to ensure the
opinions of local people are fully taken into consideration by the Reporter.

To do this effectively we need to raise a considerable amount of money.
Please help us by donating whatever you can towards the cost.
We cannot do this without your help.

Thank you

Click for larger version

A 'Room with a View'?
Distance to nearest turbine 1km

Spittal Hill - the wrong place for a wind farm. PLEASE OBJECT NOW!

An Addendum to the original application has been submitted to the Scottish Government. Nothing has changed; the application is still for 30 turbines, up to 110 metres in height, on Spittal Hill, Caithness. The many concerns of local residents have not been addressed and the proposal remains a blight on their lives.

We have another opportunity to send our objections to the Scottish Government and Highland Council. Even if you have already objected (which will still be taken into account), and thank you very much for doing so, we would urge you to object again. Please also encourage everyone you know to do the same. This may be our last chance.

Please take a few minutes to complete our online objection form or print off a copy for posting.

View of Spittal Hill Windfarm from picnic area at east end of Loch Watten
Distance to nearest turbine 5.4km

Spittal Windfarm Opposition Group (SWOG) was formed in August 2004 by residents living around Spittal Hill in central Caithness when the developers first produced their scoping plans for a major wind farm on Spittal Hill.

The development is for 30 turbines up to 110 metres high, the site having an area of 980 hectares (2421 acres or 3.75 square miles). Because of its immense size, the Scottish Government rather than Highland Council will decide this application.

What's so special about Spittal Hill? Why isn't it a good place for a major wind farm? First and foremost, the hill is a central, prominent local landmark between Wick and Thurso surrounded by an open landscape. The hill has an elevation of 176 metres; this would mean the closest turbine would tower over the summit by 59 metres (193 feet). This will diminish and destroy the natural form of the hill and will detrimentally alter the landscape.

The turbines will be visible from many locations both near and far. All major tourist routes into the county; road, rail, cruise ship and ferry will have a clear view. They will be visible from as far away as Kirkwall in Orkney and Strathy Point. Indeed, even the Environmental Statement admits the wind farm will be visible from all points of the compass with only a few pockets of land not having sight of it. Significant visual effects will apply to over 50% of surrounding areas.

Spittal windfarm viewed from Dunnet (distance to nearest turbine 15 km). Photomontage by Stuart Young Visualisations

The cumulative and sequential impact when viewed together with the operational wind farms at Buolfruich and Causewaymire will give an impression of turbines along the length of the main A9 tourist route into and out of Caithness. In addition, there are wind farms built at Forss, Flex Hill and Achairn, and a wind farm approved at Camster. If this development is approved the tipping point will have been reached and the landscape will change to that of a 'wind farm landscape'. To alter an area's landscape so dramatically cannot be justified.

Montage comparing the Test & Trials Facility at Janetstown (27m high), Dunnet Church (12m high), a proposed Spittal Hill turbine (110m high), and an existing Forss turbine (78m high). Photomontage by
Stuart Young Visualisations

The wind farm will be situated much too close to residential property. The closest turbine to a residence (where the owners have no financial interest in the wind farm) will be approximately 864 metres away.

The closest turbine to houses at Spittal village will be approximately 1200 metres away. The consequent loss of amenity, and problems with noise, strobing and shadow flicker are well documented. Accidents at wind farm sites such as blade detachment, fire and ice throw have also been recorded.

Turbines viewed from the A9 at Spittal.
Photomontage by Stuart Young Visualisations

The wind farm site is within 2.5 km of Loch Scarmclate and 2.0 km of Loch Watten, both of which are component parts of the Caithness Lochs Special Protection Area and Ramsar site. Watercourses from the site run down to Lochs Scarmclate, Watten and Toftingall. The site contains within its boundaries Spittal and Banniskirk quarries, both designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest for their fossil fish. There are also existing historic landscape features to be taken into account. The history of Spittal village can be traced back to the Iron Age and there are many Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Listed Buildings situated within 10 km of the site.

"Our landscape of mountain, moor, loch and glen is famous throughout the world. It makes no sense to develop irresponsibly and thereby threaten the basis of our tourist industry. SNH must work with others to achieve carefully thought out policies." Quote from Scottish Natural Heritage on its North Highland webpage.

We are not alone in our concerns. Highland Council has already stated that Spittal Hill is not a suitable place for a major wind farm in their 2006 Renewable Energy Strategy. Prior to production of this Strategy, the Caithness Local Plan always designated Spittal Hill as an area presumed against development (PP3).

Npower claims its Causewaymire wind farm supplies sufficient electricity for 28,500 households. The Spittal Hill developers claim their wind farm would supply 45,000 households. According to Npower, the 2001 census showed Caithness as having 10,870 households. Even allowing for growth, and assuming these claims are valid, these two wind farms alone would supply over 62,000 more homes than exist in Caithness. The surplus will have to be exported many miles to consumers in the south.

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