The developer behind a controversial Aberdeenshire windfarm, which objectors feared would create a scar on the landscape, is hoping to add more turbines and increase the height of those already agreed.
Fred Olsen Renewables, which has already been granted permission by Aberdeenshire council to build 25 turbines at Midhill, near Cairn o’ Mount, wants to increase the height of five of the blades to 360ft.
The developer is also seeking permission to build another 15 turbines on the site, five-and-a-half miles south of Banchory, and 10 miles west of Stonehaven.
Consultants for the pro-ject unveiled their pro-posals to members of Stonehaven Community Council this week and will be seeking the views of communities in surrounding areas over the coming weeks.
Plans for 25 turbines were approved by the council’s infrastructure services committee in 2005, despite being rejected by councillors in Marr.
More than 50 residents, led by the former Lord Lieutenant of Kincardine, John Smart, objected to the scheme and although full permission is in place for the 25 turbines, the developer is still awaiting final approval from the Scottish Government to increase the tip height of the blades.
No work has been started on the site yet.
The project has also been held back by the reorganisation of the national grid and is waiting to be allocated capacity.
In spite of uncertainty around both of the issues, Fred Olsen Renewables is pushing ahead with new plans to extend the site, leading members of the community council to question whether they were “developing by stealth”.
Community councillor Ditta Neumann said: “It would be 50% bigger than it originally was.
“It seems like development by stealth in many ways.”
Donald Spiers from consultancy Natural Power said it was just the way timescales had worked out and that the views of residents would be sought before a formal application for the additional turbines is submitted, in around three months.
He said the proposed extension would only go ahead if it had backing from locals.
He added: “Extending Midhill, which has been identified as a very appropriate site for a windfarm and has the support of the community, makes a lot more sense than starting from scratch.
“We could significantly increase output while using the same access roads and infrastructure.
“It would be much less disruptive than starting again on another site.”
11 January 2008
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