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Plan puts wind up neighbours  

A new wind farm could be built near an ancient castle at Alvah, despite strong objections.

Plans to build two 100 metre high wind turbines near the unoccupied, A-listed Inchdrewer Castle were backed by Aberdeenshire councillors last Tuesday ““ in the face of warnings by residents that the development would have an impact on tourism, road safety, wildlife and house prices.

Two objectors who live close by, at Strath of Brydock, Alvah, said the only people who would benefit would be the owners of the Mill of Brydock site, Grampian Country Food Group.

One of the residents presented councillors with a 35-name petition to back their argument, and Historic Scotland objected because of the impact on the castle 800 metres away.

The council’s own planning report recommended refusal.

But councillors ignored them all and now the application has been sent to the Scottish Executive for final approval.

A spokesman for the applicant said that money raised from the energy generated would benefit the local community. The supply from the turbines would help subsidise the income of the site-owning farm, and power generated will be used for the mill.

Objector Edna Green, who lives near the site, said the project would have an effect on the value of surrounding properties, and the turbines would be a distraction for drivers and could cause accidents.

She was also concerned about wildlife, such as badgers and barn owls.

“Tourists come to Banff for the scenery and tranquillity, not to be looking at wind turbines,” she said.

“Turbines are contributing nothing to the local community. People might think we, the residents, are insignificant, we are in fact a very important to the rural community. The only person benefiting is the applicant and that would be going into his pocket.”

Local resident Stuart Montrose presented the committee with a 35-signature petition. “There will be a detrimental effect on people’s homes. Would you want to purchase a home here? I think not,” he said.

“There’s a real possibility that we will see a drop in value. Who will compensate us with this cost?”

On road safety, he added: “If drivers take their eyes off the road to look at these things for even a second, it could lead to tragedy. Just one accident is an accident too many.”

If these turbines were allowed, other farmers would be given permission and every entrance to Banff would be covered by wind turbines, he said. “This project will only benefit the farmer, but will have a detrimental effect on everybody else.

“We as residents will have to live with this development every day of our lives. From our windows and when we go outside.”

Farm manager David Green, representing the applicant, said the farming business employed 12 people and that the mill at Strath of Brydock was very closely linked to Grampian Country Food Group, who employ 150 people in the surrounding area.

“We are encouraged to diversify regularly and we have been looking at various options to help subsidise the farm income. We have seen increasing pressure on this area as far as agriculture is concerned,” he said.

“Anything that can be done to preserve this has got to be a good thing for the local area. There’s also growing pressure from Grampian’s customers to improve our green credentials.”

Mr Green added that the company had consulted Historic Scotland and had reduced the number of turbines planned from three to two as a compromise, to reduce the impact on Inchdrewer Castle. They had also contacted Alvah Community Council, who said they had no objections.

He added that through a community benefit scheme, the project would contribute an annual sum to the community.

However, council planner Darren Ross pointed out that any contribution to the area by the business would be voluntary.

Fraserburgh councillor Ian Tait said it was always his feeling to support sources of renewable, clean energy. “If an application can improve efficiency of a business, I think that’s commendable,” he added.

“I notice that quite a few of the consultants say they’ve no objection. My view is that unless there are good reasons we should be supporting applications for renewable energy. Is the castle going to be so badly compromised that it should be refused?”

Banff West and Boyndie councillor Jeanette McKee said she was in two minds. ” We can clearly see from site visits that the big wind farm at Boyndie did impact on the area. However, Boyndie was different in that there wasn’t a single objection from the local residents; and also it was built in an old airfield,” she added.

“None of us would want a 100 metre turbine outside our front door. The road safety issues are a real concern, as has happened in Boyndie. When people come across the turbines, they just stop their cars.”

Councillors voted 7-3 in favour of the development, at the Banff and Buchan area meeting in Banff’s County Hall.

They backed the application for full planning permission by A.J. Duncan, of Muirden, Turriff, after representations for and against the plans for the two 330 foot turbines and access tracks were made.

The final decision now goes to Scottish ministers.

The turbines are 13 metres lower than the ones at Whitehills, but significantly higher than the original design for 80 metre high ground to blade tip turbines.

By Kevin Duguid

banffshire-journal.co.uk

4 April 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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