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Planners back bid to let wind monitors stay despite ruling  

Wind monitors standing 165ft high could remain on a north-east hillside for three more years despite a ruling by Scottish ministers that the land was not suitable for a renewable-energy development.

Two masts, one on Cloiche Dubh and the other on Black Hill, were erected in 2003 to gather data for a proposed windfarm at Clashindarroch Forest near Huntly.

Now council planners have backed two separate proposals to keep the masts in place to allow for further information gathering.

In September, ministers ended a long-running saga when they rejected plans to erect 37 wind turbines at the site. The proposal, submitted by wind-energy firm Amec, had attracted criticism from local protest group Friends of the Clash, who claimed it was a mistake to clear woodland to make room for the farm.

In May 2006 the proposals went to a public inquiry because of the number of objections. The process ended with the rejection of the plans by Scottish ministers on the grounds of potential harm to the landscape and negative visual impact.

But in a report to go before the Marr area committee on Tuesday, development officer Neil Mair recommends the wind-monitoring masts are retained because there is “every chance” a new windfarm application could be received for the same area.

He says: “That said, the need for further research into wind speeds and directions should be considered on its own merits and not based specifically on any one windfarm development or indeed a refusal.”

But the two applications have attracted 27 letters of objection, all of which question the need for the monitoring masts in light of the decision by ministers.

The report says objectors have labelled the masts as “unsightly and unnecessary” and complained that any windfarm by Amec would be for private gain rather than to support the local or national grid.

Councillors will consider the proposals when they meet at Stewart’s Hall, Huntly, on Tuesday.

The Press and Journal

17 November 2007

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