A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a biogas plant on a farm in Easter Ross, which is expected to inject £30 million of investment in the local area, has been given the go-ahead on appeal.
Last November Highland Council’s planning applications committee turned down the anaerobic digester plant on Rosskeen Farm near Invergordon.
Councillors voted nine to four to refuse David Gill’s application which had attracted 23 public objections, as well as an objection from Invergordon Community Council.
Invergordon Golf Club feared the development would threaten its future and neighbours were worried about the traffic impact caused by up to six vehicles an hour arriving at peak harvest times.
Some councillors shared the misgivings about the impact on the Rosskeen and Tomich A9 junctions and the Shore Road, and were unconvinced that a list of road improvements would address the problems.
However, after the councillors’ decision, consultants working on the proposal said the planning committe had turned away a £30 million investment and nearly £500,000 of road improvements by refusing the plant.
An appeal was lodged back in March against the rejection of the AD plant that would process and convert farm feedstock into bio-methane for the gas network.
Last week, Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division revealed the appeal had been allowed, subject to 27 conditions.
In a 28-page ruling, the appeals reporter Robert Maslin said the advantages of the development outweighed the significant adverse effects on the nearest cottages and part of the golf course.
“I find that the proposed development, notwithstanding its effect on the nearest dwellings, is in a location that limits its effect on the wider surrounding landscape,” he said in his written decision.
“I find that the design of the proposed development is largely dictated by its functional requirements. The tanks would have a simple, relatively clean-cut appearance, minimising their effect so far as this is possible, in view of their size.”
The conditions stipulate that no work should start until changes to the road layout and junctions, as well as the traffic management plan, have been approved by the planning authority.
Objectors had feared the AD plant would disturb their peace and sleep in the rural settlement between Alness and Invergordon.
Representatives for the applicant had previously stressed the development would inject £30 million of investment over the next 20 years and would not create any noise or odour issues.
The plant is designed to process and convert farm feedstock into bio-methane.
It would be fed from local farms within an eight-mile radius and would require a total of 36,000 tonnes of feedstock per year.
It has been previously said that although the level of traffic would be intensive over the weeks of the harvest periods, road improvements at the Rosskeen A9 junction, a Shore Road junction and the Rosskeen road would mitigate the impacts of the development.
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