A north-east airfield which hampered proposals for a controversial windfarm project will be inspected by a Scottish Government official as part of a planning appeal.
The plans for Auchenten, near Hatton, were stopped in their tracks last year after Aberdeenshire Council received more than 170 letters of objection, including one from the owner of a private airstrip near the village. Planning chiefs said not enough had been done to show the scheme would not have had a “detrimental impact” on the airfield, owned by local pilot Jim Anderson. Councillors refused to grant planning permission after discussing the project at a meeting of the local authority’s Buchan area committee in October.
Dr Gordon Masson, of Sutton Scotney, Hampshire, was working with clean energy specialist Green Cat Renewables on the bid to build the three 276ft turbines.
The partners appealed to the government to try to overturn the councillors’ ruling.
It has now emerged that government reporter William Patterson will handle the appeal process and will visit the proposed site in the coming weeks.
A government spokeswoman said: “After the visit the reporter may have enough information to make a decision, and will go on to do so.
“On the other hand, the reporter may decide that additional information is required to help reach a decision.”
Dr Masson and Green Cat Renewables argue that flashing lights could be attached to the turbines to warn pilots of their position.
In a letter submitted with the appeal, they said: “The lighting would provide a visual reference to locate the airstrip in approach during poor visibility weather.
“The turbines could therefore improve the airstrip safety if used in bad weather conditions.”
The developer’s letter also states the project would have a “positive impact” on the north-east economy.
“The additional income generated would encourage business growth, which would create additional job opportunities,” the spokesman added.
At an earlier meeting of the Buchan area committee, agents for Dr Masson said he would be willing to pay for the runway to be rerouted, so planes flew away from the turbines.
Mr Anderson, of Ardiffery, rejected the offer, saying he had no interest in the money.
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