Plans to build a windfarm on a Mearns hilltop were rejected by councillors yesterday.
The application for nine turbines at St John’s Hill, near Kinneff, had divided the local community. Almost 750 letters of representation were sent to Aberdeenshire Council officials – 468 in support of the development and 279 against.
St John’s Hill Ltd, which is a collaboration between local company FM Developments and the Danish organisation KE Projects, wanted to erect nine 260ft turbines, a substation, access tracks, an anemometer mast and ancillary developments on the site which overlooks Kinneff village.
The firm originally submitted plans for 10 turbines, each 325ft, on the site in December 2004, but withdrew them last year after a public outcry.
The amended scheme had been recommended for approval by council officials, who said that it met both local and national guidelines.
A decision had been deferred by the Kincardine and Mearns area committee in August to allow for a site visit.
Head of planning and building standards for the council Douglas Gray said at yesterday’s meeting that the application had drawn many concerns about the impact on the local landscape, which provided inspiration for famous author Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
He said the effects of climate change could potentially be more damaging for the local area than the renewable energy scheme.
Stonehaven North councillor Michael Sullivan led a motion for the scheme to be accepted for environmental reasons.
He said: “Global warming is now a greater danger to the planet than international terrors. Windfarms are not designed to antagonise local people but to form part of the battle against global warming.
“The visual impact of this application for eight elegantly spaced apart turbines is visually acceptable and on balance I feel the application should be given our blessing.”
Portlethen North councillor Sheila Thomson agreed that the scheme should be sanctioned and added that it could eventually prove an inspiration to future writers in the area. But opponents said the development would destroy the local landscape as well as increase potential health risks to local residents.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, Edwin Booth from the Barras, Arbuthnott, Catterline and Kinneff Windfarm Action Group, said the scheme was sited too close to local residences. He said: “What separates the three groups of turbines? People’s homes.”
Ian Duncan from Catterline, Kinneff and Dunnottar community council added that giving the go-ahead to the development would “change St John’s Hill from a rural area into an industrial site”.
He said: “Large moving turbines have a significant effect on the landscape, character and visual amenity of the local area.”
Mearns North councillor George Swapp said a windfarm would be better located in a more rural area. He moved for the application to be thrown out given its potential adverse impact on the area’s rich heritage.
The motion was seconded by Stonehaven south member Wendy Agnew. She said: “In my view the landscape is too small to accommodate a windfarm which will dominate the surrounding area and properties. If it is granted, it would simply open up the door to others in an area where people live and work.”
The application was finally rejected, after lengthy debate, by seven votes to four.
By Amelia Whittaker
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