Planning permission has recently been refused for a 20MW wind farm at Broadmeadows Farm, Selkirk, by reason of its unacceptable landscape and visual impacts. No hearing or public inquiry was held (under the Scottish procedure rules, the reporter decides whether there should be any further procedure).

Coincidentally, it is close to the Minch Moor wind farm site, which was also refused planning permission on landscape and visual grounds, again without a hearing or inquiry.

Interestingly, landscape and visual issues were considered at public inquiry for the 177MW wind farm at Dorenell, Moray. Although that was a section 36 application, the parties agreed to a mix of inquiry, hearing and written procedures. In addition to landscape and visual issues, the inquiry also considered tourism and recreation, economic benefits and impacts, and policy issues.

Dorenell was granted consent. So, get an inquiry and you’ll get consent? Of course not, but it is understandable that developers are concerned that permission can be refused without the complicated landscape and visual impact issue being discussed at an inquiry or hearing.

The Broadmeadows and Minch Moor cases show that reporters won’t necessarily agree to a hearing or inquiry even where landscape and visual impact is a key issue. The challenge for developers submitting planning appeals in Scotland is to highlight what it is about the particular issue in their particular case that justifies a hearing or inquiry.

Neil Collar