May 17, 2011

Protest 'storm' warning

By Graham Crawford, Banffshire Journal, 17 May 2011

Plans to develop two community-owned wind turbines near Aberchirder could create a storm of protest, it was warned this week.

Banff and Macduff Community Trust wants to establish turbines at Culvie, between Aberchirder and Cornhill, and at Blackhills Moss, between Aberchirder and Portsoy.

It hopes the venture will raise “significant annual income” for its projects, and is proposing that “a proportion of the annual profits be given to Cornhill to Aberchirder”.

However, a nearby protest group against wind turbines warned: “I think a lot of people are going to be very unhappy about this being led by a trust from outwith the area.”

A spokeswoman for the Marnoch and Deveron Valley Protection Group added: “They may feel Banff and Macduff Community Trust is dumping all its rubbish with them, so it can jump on the bandwagon of collecting the subsidies available from turbines.

“It really is getting silly, the number of sites in the North-east being investigated for these structures.

“One person behind one of the large wind farms admitted to me that they only thing they really generated, rather than electricity, was money for the landowner.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for All Concerned About Foggie Turbines (ALCAT), a group opposing turbine applications in the Aberchirder area, said: “It is alarming to hear that an outside organisation is proposing to set up turbines which would be detrimental to the area between Aberchirder and Portsoy and Cornhill as a means to fund projects elsewhere.

“People need to be aware that very soon there could be turbines everywhere.”

This week, Banff and Macduff Community Trust chairman Ian Hardie said: “The trust has been working with a local landowner for more than a year to investigate the viability of two sites – one at Blackhills Moss and the other at Culvie – for a renewable energy scheme.

“A feasibility study suggests that a single 300kw turbine could be developed at Blackhills Moss, while a single 800kw turbine could be developed at Culvie.

“The sites are technically, environmentally and financially viable, and the next step is to carry out a consultation with the community to determine local feelings.

“We have a long way to go with this project, and are nowhere near at the stage of submitting a planning application.

“We understand that not everyone will be supportive of the project, and the challenge for the trust will be to determine how the majority of the community wants the trust to proceed.

“Our advice to everyone is to make their voice heard, and we will listen to what they have to say.”

The first phase of the community consultation will take place next Tuesday, May 24 when consultants who carried out the feasibility study will hold an information session for the public at the trust café, The Green Tree in Castle Street, Banff, between 10am-2pm.

Mr Hardie said: “More events will follow to consult with the community.

“As well as asking people what they think about the proposals, we want feedback about how they feel profits generated from the project should be spent.

“Grant funding is becoming increasingly hard to come by, and we believe the funds from a wind turbine set up entirely for community benefit will make a significant difference to the scale and scope of projects the trust and other local groups can deliver.

“As the two sites are outwith the towns of Banff and Macduff, the community trust is proposing that a proportion of the annual profits be given to Cornhill and Aberchirder.”

Maureen Hay, a member of Cornhill and Ordiquhill Community Council and Cornhill Village Community Trust, told the ‘Banffshire Journal’: “We are interested in hearing what the Banff and Macduff Community Trust has to say.”

The community trust provoked anger from competitors of The Green Tree cafe for setting it up without consulting them about the impact it would have on their businesses. They were angered earlier this year that the trust had received public funding of £35,000 to sustain its objectives.

URL to article: