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Hesta Windfarm Would Be A “Blight On The Landscape”

The Hesta appeal decision has the potential for a major adverse effect on the landscape of South Ronaldsay”, Steve Sankey


wind turbines Burgar HillSteve Sankey, the Scottish Green party councillor for South Ronaldsay and Burray has spoken out about the proposed windfarm for Hesta.

Councillor Sankey as  Vice Chairman of OIC’s Planning Committee has not felt able to make his views known up till now. Orkney Islands Council’s Planning Committee recently refused permission to grant the building of wind farms by Hoolan Energy at both Hesta and Costa. Has Orkney Had Enough of Wind Farms?

The windfarm application has now been referred to the appeals service of the Scottish Government. Steve Sankey has written a letter to the appeals service. In 2018 45% of the appeals put before the Scottish Government Department were successful.

Steve Sankey’s letter is quote in full below.

Dear Mr Mahony

PPA-330-2023 (PLANNING PERMISSION APPEAL): HESTA HEAD, SOUTH RONALDSAY, ORKNEY

 I write as a local resident, elected member of Orkney Islands Council (OIC), and objector to the above proposal, to advise you that my original objections to this proposal remain, and are attached to this letter FYI. I should also emphasise that although I am Vice Chairman of the OIC Planning Committee, I have played no part in OIC’s formal decision-making regarding this matter as I declared an interest under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct published by the Standards Commission for Scotland. Now that decision-making in this case has passed formally to DPEA, I am able to offer you my thoughts as a Ward Councillor.

I notice from the DPEA website that you intend to conduct a site visit as part of the appeal process. Whilst this is no doubt common practice, I welcome this intent, and would encourage you to liaise with as much local opinion as is practicable in determining this appeal. As a local elected member of OIC in the Ward within which the application is located, I would be pleased to assist in this regard should you so wish. I would highlight the following observations regarding the determination of this proposal to date:

  • The grounds for refusal by OIC you will note relate almost exclusively to energy and landscape or natural heritage policy. I concur with the OIC Planning Committee’s unanimous decision of refusal, in that this proposed windfarm development is not in accord with the landscape policies or indeed scenic tolerance of the small island of South Ronaldsay. I myself used a description of the proposals as ‘overwhelming’ in my evidence as an objector to their Planning Committee on 31 August 2018.
  • You will also appreciate that windfarm proposals by their very nature tend to polarise communities. In my experience as a trained planner, I have rarely witnessed such unified opposition to a proposal from a small rural community. Apart from a few individuals with a fiduciary interest, you will find few supporters either at elected level (OIC Ward members or the South Ronaldsay and Burray Community Council); or individual members of the community. You should also note the high numbers of objectors (89) to this proposal, of which 80% are local to Orkney.

Finally, whilst I appreciate that the current consultation by the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks regarding the associated infrastructure for the proposed windfarm at Hesta Head is not material to your particular appeal, local opinion and/or common sense does not neatly follow planning protocols. Simply put, if the Hesta appeal succeeds, then an electrical switch station and overhead transmission lines are likely to follow thereby compounding the landscape blight. If the Hesta appeal fails then landscape blight will not occur, as the ‘southern’ route across our small island will become redundant. In policy and holistic terms, therefore, the Hesta appeal decision has the potential for a major adverse effect on the landscape of South Ronaldsay, with implications beyond merely the site proposal itself.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance or wish clarification of any issues.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Steve Sankey


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