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Wind dilemma is no breeze for council

Stirling Council has agreed changes to its planning policies for wind farms.

Among the main talking points was the growing number of applications for one or two-turbine projects, such as two proposals currently under consideration near Thornhill.

Head of planning Kevin Robertson said: “We are getting more and more interest in terms of smaller types of turbines. It is something that we will need to work on and there is more guidance to come from the Scottish Government.

“We are fully supportive of community turbines but we also have to satisfy other criteria as well and have to look at these as they arise.”

A council planner said: “We have some more work to do on small-to-medium turbines. The ones near Thornhill fall between categories. It is down to judgement and the planning panel will exercise that judgement on the advice of officers.”

Provost Fergus Wood said: “All the farmers I know in the Carse of Stirling have had at least two or three companies chasing them to put in some kind of turbines.

“Even I, living in the national park which is unlikely to allow it, have been approached.

“I attended the recent public meeting in Thornhill and it was evident the applicants were in the speculation rather than the windfarm business. In a sense these applications now coming through are test cases.

“I can understand the attraction but I can also see a potential issue with proliferation throughout the area.”

Councillor Alasdair Macpherson said he had suggested to community councils in Cowie and Fallin that they look at community turbines.

He told the meeting: “I want to make sure this policy doesn’t in any way stop communities from pursuing these options. If they can get between £50,000 and £80,000 a year and if the community wants the turbine then I’m all for it.”

Bannockburn councillor Margaret Brisley said: “I like the idea of community turbines but not the idea of communities being bought off and persuaded by community gain. There are some instances where the people who have benefited aren’t necessarily the ones looking out on the turbines.”

Councillor Neil Benny said: “Stirling Council has one of the highest densities of wind turbines in Scotland and we should be able to draw a big line around Stirling. We have to be very careful that we don’t throw away one of our best assets: our landscape. It is precious to us and we have had far too many windfarms imposed on us already.”