Councillors yesterday called for stronger planning guidelines to address the cumulative effect of wind turbine developments on the north-east countryside.
Members of the Marr area committee made the comments during a debate at Huntly on an application for three 95ft turbines on an area described by council planners as being at the “absolute limit” of capacity.
The plan for a site at Mains of Rhynie farm, Rhynie, was approved by five votes to four after a discussion that prompted several councillors to question the scope of current planning regulations.
Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford councillor Alistair Ross said: “We do not have sufficiently developed policies with regard to turbines and it is something that we have to address.
“We have to look at getting stronger and clearer policies about what is and what is not going to be acceptable.”
Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside councillor Peter Argyle said the issue had also arisen at a recent meeting of the council’s infrastructure services committee.
“There is clearly an issue about the number of applications,” he said.
Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford councillor Richard Stroud said he was having difficulty reconciling previous guidance to consider each application on its individual merits against the need to assess the cumulative impact of wind turbines across the north-east.
The Marr area committee alone has recently approved projects for Upper Wheedlemont, Kildrummy and Clashindarroch, while another site at Cairnmore is already in operation.
Area planning officer Mairi Stewart said the application before the committee was for a relatively small development, and despite previous concerns over the cumulative effect, the impact was not considered “significant enough” to warrant refusal.
A report to councillors said the turbines, which will be situated at Quarry Hill, near Mains of Rhynie farm, would have no less impact on the landscape than electric pylons that are already in place.
It said that the proposed machines will be “relatively close” to other turbine sites, but much smaller in size than the development at Upper Wheedlemont.
Banchory and Mid-Deeside councillor Jill Webster cautioned that the committee would be on “sticky ground” if it refused the Mains of Rhynie application.
She said: “I am wracked with difficulty over the cumulative impact, but there are no valid reasons for turning this down.”
The application was approved after the vote, subject to conditions over noise and mitigation measures.
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