Although not all the comments received by Highland Council have yet been posted on the ePlanning website, with the end of the public consultation period last Friday (4th October) most are now published for all to see. And what a result! It’s clear that among the residents of the community the support for the turbine appears much stronger now than it was when the community ballot took place in 2010! In the 2010 ballot, 69% of residents who voted were in support of the project, but of those 111 Coigach residents who expressed their opinion on the ePlanning site in the past few weeks, 88% have given the project a solid thumbs up with only 12% against. Assuming both are representative results, it shows a 27.5% growth in what was already strong support for the project among local residents.
Although it’s a great result which augurs well for our planning application we can’t get away from the fact that it’s maybe a reflection of the hard realities that we’re facing in seeking community sustainability, for since the 2010 ballot we’ve suffered further setbacks – Summer Isles Foods, our biggest employer, relocating to Alness, Polbain Stores closing and the school roll declining even further to the point that it is now a one-teacher school.
Inevitably the public consultation drew comments from far and wide, many from people who have little if any direct connection with Coigach, but again on balance the comments were strongly in support of the project proceeding despite there being an organised campaign against the project and not a little misinformation.
We now look forward to the next stage in the process for our planning application and look forward to the day, hopefully, when our turbine starts turning and in doing its bit to turn our community’s fortunes around.