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Wind turbine plans get go-ahead  

Plans to erect a pair of 246ft wind turbines on a north-east hilltop were endorsed by councillors yesterday.

Approval of the application, submitted by Grant Mackie of Balquhindachy, near Methlick, will bring the total number of turbines on the site to three.

Concerned villagers fear it could result in a sprawling windfarm over a vast area of rural Aberdeenshire.

In a report to Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine area committee, head of development management and building standards Raymond Reid recommended approval for the turbines at Hill of Balquhindachy.

The proposals, which attracted 12 letters of objection and 26 of support, went before the committee in January but were deferred for a site visit by councillors.

Addressing the committee, Mr Mackie urged the council to support these “small clusters” of turbines in line with its sustainability aims and said they could fill an energy gap when oil and gas supplies run out.

Councillor for Mid-Formartine Jim Gifford said he saw no reason to reject the scheme, despite objections in the local community.

He said: “Having gone to the site visit, I think this is as good as we’re going to get. A mile or two south and we might be having a whole different discussion because there’s quite a collaboration of turbines.”

Fellow ward councillor Paul Johnston agreed to approve the proposals but said he was concerned about noise and about the cumulative effect of three turbines in such an open landscape.

“It’s certainly prominent from a long distance. There’s lots and lots of houses that will see it. The one thing that really sticks about it is that it stands out and there’s the issue of cumulative effect in the countryside,” he said.

Council leader Anne Robertson, councillor for Turriff and district, also pushed for approval but asked officers to prepare a report for councillors detailing what would constitute “cumulative effect” in applications like this as no guidelines currently exist.

The Press and Journal

6 February 2008

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