A public inquiry to decide the fate of plans for a windfarm on a Mearns hilltop opened yesterday.
Reporter Malcolm Mahony began the hearing, which is expected to last until Friday, in Kinneff village hall.
He has been appointed by Scottish ministers to consider an application to erect nine 260ft turbine towers and associated infrastructure at St John’s Hill, Barras, near Stonehaven.
The plan was rejected by Aberdeenshire Council’s Kincardine and Mearns area committee in October last year.
It caused divisions within the local community, with 468 people writing in support of the application and 279 opposing the plans.
It also led to the formation of the Barras, Arbuthnott, Catterline and Kinneff Windfarm Action Group (Backwag), which will raise its concerns again at the inquiry.
Over the course of the week, Mr Mahony will hear submissions from developer St John’s Hill, experts in archeology, ecology and planning policy, an environmental consultant for Aberdeenshire Council, Councillor Wendy Agnew, who will put forward the reasons for refusing the original application, representatives of Backwag and the Grassic Gibbon Centre, which also opposes the scheme.
In addition, he will conduct a number of site visits to establish the visual impact the windfarm would have on the landscape.
St John’s Hill, which is a collaboration between Edinburgh-based F.M. Developments and the Danish organisation K.E. Projects, is expected to dispute claims that the turbines would harm the local environment.
A report prepared on behalf of the firm by Ecology UK concluded that, despite the claims of objectors, the effect of the proposals on habitats and vegetation would be negligible.
2 October 2007
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