A group of farmers was given the go-ahead to erect four wind turbines in rural Aberdeenshire yesterday after councillors overruled the advice of planning bosses.
The 295ft windmills, which attracted more than 250 letters of objection during the planning process, had been recommended for refusal because of their height.
But members of the infrastructure services committee decided the negative impact was “pretty marginal” when balanced against the benefits of the project and approved the proposals.
The three individual applicants, known collectively as the Methlick Farmers, were granted approval from the Formartine area committee in June for the four turbines across three sites.
But the project went outwith the limits of Aberdeenshire Council’s local plan and needed to go before the infrastructure services committee for a final decision at Woodhill House in Aberdeen yesterday.
In the report that went before councillors, director of planning and environmental services Christine Gore said the four-turbine development would have “an adverse impact on the character of the area” and an “unacceptable cumulative impact”.
She also said that turbines of 262ft – just 33ft lower than proposed – would have been regarded as acceptable by the council planners.
Speaking in favour of the project at yesterday’s meeting, Paul Johnston, councillor for Mid-Formartine, described the height difference as “pretty marginal” and outlined the benefits a bigger turbine could produce.
He said the extra height would produce a “significant increase in power” and claimed this would consequently result in fewer applications for turbines.
This was backed by Central Buchan councillor Albert Howie who called for “less of them, but bigger machines”.
Some councillors remained unconvinced and warned the project could have a serious impact on the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Committee chairman Martin Ford said he had “never yet voted against a windfarm” but said these applications were “quite challenging”.
He said the height of the turbines was “not a critical issue” but voiced concerns about having numerous turbines of different heights and different rotation cycles within a small area.
“I think a large group of wind turbines is a beautiful sight but I can see having a group of mixed sizes could be injurious to the brain. The visual impact of that would be very different,” he said.
Marcus Humphrey, councillor for Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, reiterated the point and said he was worried about “piecemeal” development of windfarms.
The committee’s vote on the proposals ended with 10 votes in support of the development and four against.
5 October 2007
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