September 8, 2010

Protest move on turbine plans

By Graham Crawford, Banffshire Journal, 7 September 2010

Plans for wind turbines at a protected Banffshire beauty spot are set to face strong opposition.

Three 275-ft high turbines are proposed for a ridge at Mossford Farm, Rothiemay in the heart of the stunning Deveron Valley.

If approved, they will be placed on the Crombie Moss skyline in full view of neighbouring Aberchirder and tourists passing through the valley.

According to objectors, they will also rise above the adjacent Catstone Hill between the A95 Banff-Keith and A97 Huntly-Banff roads and add to the “cumulative impact” of turbines on the Aberdeenshire landscape.

The £3.5 million application for three turbines and an electricity substation has been made by Norman Bruce, occupant of the 85-acres Mossford Farm, bought in 2008.

The development is expected to generate £635,000 a year.

Last week, around a dozen largely Bridge of Marnoch residents opposed to the proposal met to form a steering group, stopmarnochturbines (SMT), ahead of any objections being lodged with Aberdeenshire Council’s planning department by September 30.

They intend setting up a [] website and producing a leaflet arguing why the turbines should not go ahead, and are confident most of the residents of Aberchirder, Rothiemay and elsewhere will be of a similar mind.

A group spokesman told the ‘Banffshire Journal’ this week: “We feel we need as many people as possible to express their opposition to the council in the first instance. As things stand, we feel most of the residents in the area are unaware of the proposal.

“Objections alone cannot stop the turbines – but they can ensure a full and fair hearing, which is all anyone can ask for.

“None of the group formed last week is against renewable energy, but our aim is to protect the outstanding beauty of the Deveron Valley and try to get Aberdeenshire Council to enforce its own guidelines for its designated ‘area of landscape significance’.

“The area has great value to tourism, and we all chose to live here because of its beauty.

“We also feel there are historic buildings in the area which would have their settings badly affected by any wind turbines. The turbines would dominate the skyline above Marnoch Old Church, birthplace of ‘The Disruption’, the religious upheaval that created The Free Church and shaped the life of Scotland for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

“There are more appropriate places for turbines. Placed at the proposed location, they would dwarf their important and beautiful surroundings.”

In a letter to the ‘Banffshire Journal’ this week, Jacky Player, of Bridge of Marnoch states: “These turbines are on the very edge of Aberdeenshire Council’s own Deveron Valley Area of Landscape Significance. So were the group of turbines at Strath of Brydock, between Aberchirder and Banff, but their impact was underestimated and in spite of protests from Historic Scotland and concerned residents, they have now ruined the setting of two A-listed buildings, added to noise pollution and dwarfed the surrounding countryside.

“The Scottish Government has renewable targets. It also has tourism targets. How about residents’ contentment targets?”

According to the protest group, concerns over the effect of turbines on small-scale tourism were raised in the Scottish Government’s 2007 wind farm report from Glasgow Caledonian University. It showed that the loss of only a few visitors can disrupt fragile rural economies.

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