The council have considered the application for a meteorological monitoring mast and as expected it has been referred to the Development Management Committee. This group of 13 councillors will now decide on whether to approve the application. Sadly the Development Quality Manager has recommended that it be approved, though this is based purely on the application and makes no allowance for the prospect of 4 120m turbines being built on the site. What a strange world we live in where such details are considered irrelevant ūüôĀ

Interestingly the report for the committee does contains some comments that mirror those that the objectors raised.

Ministry of Defence
28  No objection subject to mast being fitted with aviation lighting.

and

33 The application site is located on a relatively exposed area of open farm land that is surrounded by a landscape that is characterised by undulating lowland rural countryside, small areas of woodland, scattered farmsteads and small settlements/hamlets. Whilst the countryside in this area is not subject to any specific landscape designation it is an attractive area of rural countryside.

34 The erection of a 90m high meteorological mast will be by far the tallest structure within the area and it will be visible for some distance across the surrounding countryside.

This paragraph then goes on to say…

Nevertheless it is considered that the slender, slim-line form of the mast with its narrow high tension wire stays will serve to minimise the visual impact of the structure.

I’m not sure if this is meant as humour or not, but as it will have a very bright red light on top of it I’m not convinced the impact will ever be minimised!

38 Whilst the application site is not within any identified protected wildlife sites, Methven Moss SSSI is located approximately 700m to the north of the site and Dupplin Loch SSSI/SPA is located 2.5km to the south east. The proposals will not directly affect either site but it is noted that Dupplin Loch is identified as an RSPB Important Bird Area.

Of course this then continues with

The RPSB have stated that they do not usually comment on met masts as there is no evidence that they pose a risk to birds. However, they advise that an exception to this is if they are located in a particularly sensitive location where a higher risk of collision with the guy wires may be expected (e.g. immediately near a large roost or breeding colony, particularly if this is a designated site i.e. an SSSI or SPA). In such circumstances they recommend that the Council consider marking the guy wires with brightly coloured reflectors a condition of
the planning consent. The Council’s own Bio Diversity Officer has also
recommended that bird deflector discs should be fitted to each guy wire.

So basically, the birds are on their own. Not only will we have a mast that will generate all sorts of odd noises as the wind whistles through the guy wires, but the presence of the bird deflectors will add additional odd noises. Hmm, that’s certainly not going to bother the birds is it? Given that the field immediately to the south of the site was home to several thousand migrating geese as recently as a week ago, this seems like a cavalier response.

As for the local bat populations? They’re not mentioned at all.

42 A number of concerns have been raised in regards to the potential light pollution from the aviation lighting required by the MOD. Whilst it is acknowledged that the aviation lighting will be visible during the night it is not considered that this will create any significant level of light pollution. It should also be noted that this type of light is common place on many large structures such as telecommunications and television masts that are found throughout
rural areas. In addition, if consent is granted then it would be for a temporary period and therefore the potential for light pollution would in any event be similarly limited to a temporary period.

What¬†telecommunication or television¬†towers? There aren‚Äôt any in this area which is why we have such a great view of the night sky. Apparently anything that makes an area desirable to live in can be ignored ūüôĀ

I‚Äôm preparing a letter that I will send to the 13 members of the committee in the hope that they can see the sense in rejecting this proposal, though I feel it‚Äôs unlikely that they‚Äôll be brave enough to go against the advice of their planning department. It‚Äôs interesting to note that despite the large number of local objections this proposal is still given preferential treatment in the current ‚Äúrush for wind‚ÄĚ.

As for the consideration of this proposal in isolation, this paragraph is interesting.

44 It is not considered that a meteorological mast falls within any of the accepted categories of development outlined within The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2011. As such this development does not require the Council to adopt a screening opinion. However, it should be noted that a scoping request under paragraph 14 (1) of EIA Regulations has been submitted to the Council for a wind farm development comprising of 4 turbines at this location.

So there we have it. Consider this application in isolation despite the fact that there is a clear indication of the intent.

Given that Ecotricity are based hundreds of miles away their proposed wind farm will bring virtually no economic benefit to this area, yet the planners who are responsible for protecting this area seem to be bending over backwards to accommodate them. Surely that’s not how it’s supposed to work?