A decision on controversial plans for a windfarm on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park was deferred again yesterday.
Swedish energy firm Vattenfall wants to erect 18 360ft turbines at Clashindarroch Forest, four miles from the boundary of the national park on land between Huntly and Rhynie.
The plans, which have attracted criticism from campaign group Friends of Clash, hit a setback in May when members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Marr area committee agreed to defer their decision for more information.
The plans came back before councillors yesterday when they put off their decision again – this time to discuss the possibility of removing three of the masts from the ridge of a hill.
The committee heard from the agent for the scheme, plus supporters and objectors of the project.
Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford member Alastair Ross said it was a “very difficult application”.
Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Rosemary Bruce – who tabled a motion to back the plans – said many issues raised by the objectors had been dealt by consultees.
She added: “Yes, the turbines will be visible from some locations – that’s the nature of wind turbines. This will always be the case, but I think the applicants have gone a long way to mitigate the effects.”
But others, including Banchory and Mid-Deeside member Karen Clark, said the “loss of visual amenity” would be too great.
She proposed an amendment which called for the scheme to be refused planning permission.
Mr Ross proposed a second amendment to back the plans, but remove three turbines on the ridge of Cloiche Dubh hill.
He was told that an alteration on such a scale would require a further planning application to be submitted. He changed the amendment to a deferral for more information about the removal of the turbines, which was carried by five votes to three.
Speaking after the meeting, Friends of Clash co-ordinator Dr Vicky Spencer, of Drumnoth, Rhynie, said they had waited eight years, so “another week or so” would not make a difference.
Dr Rhona Newman, who lives about half a mile from the proposed site at Boganclogh Lodge, said: “I’m pleased with the decision, but I would be more pleased if they had said no.
“The report I had from an acoustic expert suggested the removal of those turbines because they were on the ridge.”
Supporter Phyllis Goodall, of Chapel Street, Huntly, said she still had hope and the decision was “more positive than a complete turn down”.
Vattenfall senior development manager David Rodger said he was pleased that the council had given the firm the opportunity to address the issues raised by the committee and it looked forward to working with the local authority.
He added that the project was still “very much alive”.
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