All aboard for the gravy train. Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity. Get your own industrial-sized turbine and reap millions in lucrative tariff payments. Just sit back and watch the pounds accumulate with every turn of the rotor blades. All you need is a bit of hilly Aberdeenshire ground and you will join the rapidly growing army of landowners and developers (not ‘entrepreneurs’ as they have been erroneously described) who just cannot believe their good luck.
Last week, councillors on the Banff and Buchan area committee again made it perfectly clear by going against their planning officials and backing the applications for three 80-metre high turbines at Hilton that they are happy to see the beautiful Banffshire countryside covered in a sea of giant turbines. Five hundred already in Aberdeenshire, another five hundred in the pipeline and goodness knows how many more on the way. There are no limits, it appears.
Ask Councillor Michael Watt who said get used to the idea – there could be 50 times as many still to come.
Ask Councillor Brian Topping who alluded to ‘NIMBY’ objectors and said we have a duty to save our planet, provide important green energy and safeguard jobs.
Ask Councillor Ian Gray who said we have to accept change and support the local farmers and economy, even in the shape of endless 80-metre to 100-metre high metal structures on top of rolling green hills. (Interestingly, none of these farmers while claiming it will “support” jobs actually says it is a matter of survival).
Ask chairman Sydney Mair who bemoaned a lack of guidance from the Government but, like most of his colleagues last week, rejected the guidance of his own planning officials who warn of the accumulative “adverse effect on the landscape”, of “tipping points” and “saturation levels” and of changing completely the appearance of “our farming heartland”.
Against all that, there was the lone voice of Councillor Jack Mair who said: “We don’t need guidance from the Government. We should be deciding the sites instead of covering the whole countryside. We as councillors should be showing the way, and we are failing. This is the prettiest countryside in the world – in a few years, it won’t be”.
For the past year, the hard-pressing planning officials of Aberdeenshire Council have often recommended turbine applications in Banffshire with the proviso that the areas involved were reaching saturation levels. However, now they feel that stage has been reached, their alerts are being ignored by councillors. The planners’ professional advice, it appears, matters little. Neither do the pleas, protests or concerns of rural residents being left helpless against the march of the turbines.
Most Aberdeenshire councillors are for wind energy and that is essentially the end of the matter. They know best as they exercise the laxest planning guidelines in the country. Never mind the many questions still being asked about turbines’ efficiency, effectiveness or value for money (every electricity bill payer will be charged heavily for them). Or how ‘green’ they actually are. Or their impact on the health of surrounding residents who claim to suffer disturbed sleep patterns and other problems. Or the potential loss of property values. Or how they are dividing communities. Or, as planning officers emphasised last week, the despoiling of the Aberdeenshire countryside.
Make no mistake. Wind turbines are now a runaway train in Banffshire, and the Banff and Buchan councillors – not east of all vociferous members from the Fraserburgh direction – are happily stoking the engine.
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