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A Scottish planning authority wants to see local communities benefit from wind farms in their areas. In guidelines for assessing wind farm applications, Highland Regional Council in the north and west of Scotland says it welcomes wind energy in principle, particularly at the household and community level. For wind farms, however, there must be local benefits. It is asking developers to look in particular at the role of linked community trust funds. In addition other possibilities for community benefits include tourism-related initiatives and investments. The council is laying down the guidelines in anticipation of a "rush of interest in wind farm sites." Four schemes in Highland Region were awarded contracts in the recent first round of the Scottish Renewable Order (SRO) and the planning applications for the sites are expected later this year. Councillor Francis Keith from the planning committee says great care must be taken in considering these early applications because they will set the pattern for future development. "That is why the guidelines are adopting quite a cautious and selective approach," he says.

A Devon developer is to take its case to build a wind farm to the Court of Appeal in London. Plans for the scheme by West Coast Wind Farms Ltd have suffered a series of setbacks since the initial planning application in 1991. First the project was turned down by the local authority, then West Coast fought two public inquiries before the application was refused by the Secretary of State for the Environment. The latest defeat was when the company lost its challenge against the environment secretary's decision in London's High Court. It has now lodged an appeal for the matter to be heard by the Court of Appeal. West Coast Wind Farms has taken its case further than any other wind project in the UK. According to John Burnett from Burd Pearse, the company's solicitors, it believes it has very good grounds for continuing with its struggle to install 23, 500 kW turbines at Fullabrook and Crackaway in north Devon. He expects the case to be heard in around six to nine months.

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