A METEOROLOGICAL mast 80metres in height will be allowed to go up in the Ochils, collecting data for a proposed wind farm in the hills.

Plans to site the mast on an unnamed top some 4.5km north of Alva have been approved by Clackmannanshire Council's planning department at the beginning of April.

The temporary mast, which will be allowed to stay in place for up to five years, will be collecting wind information to gain a more detailed understanding of wind speeds and direction in the area.

It will inform the siting and design of wind turbines if the proposed Windburn Wind Farm is granted planning permission in the future.

As previously reported, the project could see up to 14 wind turbines built in the Ochils with an early-estimate capacity of 72MW, on a site adjoining the existing Burnfoot Hill Wind Farm.

Friends of the Ochils, an independent group which previously raised concerns that the hills are too small in scale to absorb major developments without damage to visual attractiveness, neither objected to nor supported the application for the meteorological mast.

Council documents summing up representation from the group said: “The proposal constitutes another construction in the vicinity of the Burnfoot Hill Wind Farm which will have a further adverse impact on the on the Ochils landscape and recreational amenity.

“They [Friends of the Ochils] ask if the wind data would not be available from equipment located at the nearby wind farm.

“The mast should be removed if the wind farm application is refused.

“However, they would wish to reconsider their position if the mast has to be fitted with aviation lighting as this would be intrusive and could set a precedent for lighting to be fitted to the proposed wind turbines if approved.”

Indeed, the Ministry of Defence has advised that the site lies within a Low Flying Area where aircraft may conduct low level flight training and the mast could introduce an obstruction.

As a minimum, the mast will be fitted with infra-red (IR) lighting and a condition attached to the development calls for an aviation lighting scheme to be submitted in writing to be approved in consultation with the MOD.

Friends of the Ochils previously told the Advertiser the group is in “no way anti-renewable energy” but its chair Stuart Dean said last summer: “If this development were to go ahead along with proposals for two additional wind farms in the eastern Ochils above Carnbo, the Ochils would be turned into a wind farm landscape where extremely high turbines are the dominant feature.”

A second round of exhibitions took place last November as part of public consultation for the proposed wind farm, understood to be a joint venture between Wind2 and companies managed by Octopus Energy Generation.

Should the project be given the green light, the companies behind it have committed to providing a community benefit fund equivalent to £5,000 per MW.

For more information on the project, visit windburnwindfarm.co.uk.