by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer
PLANS for a wood-fired power plant near Killin are being recommended for conditional approval by national park planners.
The park’s planning committee is set to consider the application for a site at Acharn Farm at a meeting on Monday.
The combined heat and power (CHP) plant would be on the south side of the A827 road, approximately half way between Lix Toll and Killin.
The main building housing the boiler and turbine house would measure 32 metres by 21 metres with height of 21 metres and a 24-metre stack.
Planners say the main issues include the scale of the proposed building and the potential landscape and visual impacts.
The renewables biomass scheme would use virgin timber to generate steam and electricity for the equivalent of around 10,000 homes.
Killin Community Council is supporting the project, although with some reservations.
It told park planners: “The hope is that the workforce running the plant will be largely local. The fear is it won’t necessarily be, perhaps because the skills to run it won’t be available locally.
“The size of the plant may determine how visible it is. The reservations mentioned are simply that the plant may not be as successful as the PR suggests. In other words, will the plant still be up and running 10 years after it’s commissioned? Or will grants run out and the economics of transport and harvesting (high oil prices) preclude its operation?”
Park planners said: “The proposed building is of an industrial size and scale. The size, scale and arrangement of the plant cannot be adjusted as the proposal is for a turnkey package.
“However, within these constraints, alterations have been made to optimise the size and positioning of the compound area, and to finish the upper part of the building with timber cladding, in order to minimise visual impact.
“Long term woodland screening has been proposed. Woodland management has been discussed in terms of securing the best way to screen the site in the long term and a number of management objectives have been agreed to achieve this.”
They added: “Advantages of the proposal include employment – although the proposed operational plant would create only four direct jobs, it is anticipated there should be additional indirect and induced employment.
“There is also potential economic development associated with the provision of surplus heat if this can be put to good effect in the future. Other advantages include a reduction in timber haulage miles – due to proximity of site to woodfuel resource, the removal of unsightly brash, and potential for forestry thinning which would result in better quality woodland.”