Published: 13/03/2015 13:49 - Updated: 13/03/2015 14:01

Black Isle turbine campaigners describe no vote as "wise decision"

Early proposals for a Highland wind energy scheme with up to 25 turbines have been revealed.

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to plans for three community turbines on the Black Isle have welcomed the public vote against the scheme as a "wise decision".

The tight result of the postal ballot asking Black Isle residents if they were in favour of the proposed community wind farm at Millbuie Forest was released this morning (Friday) and showed that 54.4 per cent of the 4,882 who took part in the poll returned a ‘no’ vote.

The group behind the proposal, Black Isle Community Energy, has now indicated it has dropped its proposal by saying it "will not be revisiting the Millbuie Forest turbines".

No Black Isle Wind Farm, the campaign group which was set up by locals to lobby for a no vote, reacted to the result by saying it was "a good day for the Black Isle and its precious environment".

David Fraser of No Black Isle Wind Farm said: "We believe the community has made a wise decision, looking to the long-term future of the Black Isle. It is also a good decision for the sensible use of public funds. It would have been wrong to have spent an additional £150,000 of scarce public money on a wind farm development which we believe made little financial or environmental sense.

"We would like to thank all of those who, at their own cost and time, sought to bring facts and legitimate concerns to the fore.

"Hopefully now we can move on together as a community, sharing many of the same aspirations, after what has been a challenging debate."

Only 430 votes separated the yes and no voters, as 2,225 (45.6 per cent) were in favour and 2,655 were against.

The ballot, overseen by Highland Council, registered a 57 per cent turn out. The majority of the votes needed to be in favour for the plan to progress.

The proposal by Black Isle Community Energy (BICE) for community-owned turbines on Forestry Commission land at Millbuie Forest had divided local opinion.

BICE chairman Martin Sherring responded to the result by saying: "Obviously it’s disappointing for the volunteers on the working group to have put so much work into this, and then fail to get community support by such a small margin. On the positive side, it was good to have engaged with so many people on the important issues of securing funding for community development, and of course reducing our carbon footprint."

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