An attempt by Moray council planning officials to clarify regulations on planning permission for wind turbines could lead to a potential stitch-up, according to campaigners.
A discussion paper is to be put to the Planning and Regulatory Services Committee on Tuesday, proposing measures that are intended to clarify the minimum distances between new wind turbine installations and homes or other buildings.
However, rather than providing clarification the proposals serve only to confuse the issue further, according to Dave Townsend of the Cummingston Residents Action Group (CRAG).
Four separate proposals have been lodged to erect seven wind turbines which will encircle Cummingston village, proposals that CRAG and neighbouring residents have strongly opposed.
The discussion paper contains a proposal to adopt a methodology adopted by Highland, Aberdeenshire and East Ayrshire, that the distance between a proposed turbine and nearby property should be set at ten times the diameter of the turbine rotor diameter.
However, Mr Townsend pointed out that such a proposal would make little effective difference in Moray proposals. He said: “It looks to me like a stitch-up in the making.
“The majority of the current 106 wind turbine proposals in Moray would be unaffected by a 10-times rotor diameter ruling, due to the height of the predominantly smaller turbines proposed here being less than 40 metres.
“The ruling itself I had interpreted to supposedly only relate to visual considerations associated with light flicker and shadow, not the other health, safety and environmental impact planning considerations.
“I would contend that setting aside for a moment the cumulative visual impact of turbines sprouting up all over Moray, the real issue is the distance that any debris might be thrown in the event of a turbine failure.
“The safety ruling should also apply not only to properties but their surrounding grounds, any public areas, roads or public footpaths.”
The planning department paper also highlights a variety of issues brought by the erection of wind turbines, including noise impact, loss of amenity and changes to landscape, shadow flicker and electro-magnetic interference.
Following strong opposition from residents, Moray planners agreed earlier this year that consideration of the construction of four of the turbines overlooking Cummingston should be put before a full meeting of the planning committee.
While that was first expected at the April meeting, the proposal was delayed, and CRAG members have noted that the proposal does not appear to be scheduled for the meeting on Tuesday.
The Cummingston proposal is also thought to have attracted an objection from the MoD in respect of the proximity of the proposal to nearby RAF Lossiemouth.
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