Thieves have struck at a construction site of a controversial Moray wind farm, stealing turbine parts and equipment valued at a tens of thousands of pounds.
Grampian Police say a large quantity of diesel and aluminium wind turbine supports were taken last weekend from the Hill of Towie wind farm, near Mulben, along with tools and a trailer used in the building of the 21-turbine farm.
Developers RES (Renewable Energy Systems) have stepped up security at the Moray site, where the ninth turbine was erected over the course of the weekend.
Police are urging people living in the surrounding community to report any suspicious movements they may have witnessed around the time of the crime, which took place between the evening of Friday, November 18 and the following morning.
Officers are in particular keen to speak to anyone with knowledge of a diesel spill found on the Keith to Newmill road at 9am on Saturday morning.
Constable Robert Collie, who is investigating the theft, said, “I would ask people in our rural communities to be aware of unfamiliar vehicles and persons acting suspiciously and to report their concerns to the Police”.
Officers have estimated the value of the items stolen to come to a five figure sum.
The Mill of Towie wind farm has a long and troubled history, with the original planning application rejected almost ten years ago following a large number of objections from people living within the rural community.
Following an RES appeal, the Scottish Government ordered a public inquiry and the project was given the green light in 2005.
Construction began almost two years ago, with the first turbine finally installed in September this year.
A spokesperson for RES said of the weekend theft: “A number of items were taken from the site including a Ifor Williams trailer, aluminium, tools and diesel.
“At this stage, due to the nature of the items which have been stolen, it is very difficult put a value on the cost of replacing them.
“The incident has been reported to the police who are investigating the matter, and site security has been enhanced.
It is the second time in little more than a month that a Moray wind farm has been targeted by thieves, and the fourth trailer theft during the same period of time.
An Ifor Williams trailer was stolen from Netherglen wind farm, near Elgin, between October 14 and 17, while another was taken from a site in Forres’ Waterford Industrial Estate between October 17 and 19.
Forres was again targeted between November 2 and 3, when a white, fourteen foot Ifor Williams box trailer and a Karcher pressure washer, valued at a low four-figure sum, were stolen from a commercial site on Invererne Road.
Police have warned trailer owners to be aware of the spate of thefts and take security measures or seek advice on how to help prevent them falling victim to future crimes.
Constable Alison Thow, Crime Reduction Officer for Moray said: “A trailer can be an attractive item for thieves. If you own a trailer then you should make sure that it is marked in a way that is easily identifiable as your property.
“You should also keep a note of make, model and any serial number if available. There are a number of anti theft devices on the market which can either be fitted to the tow ball or to the wheel making it difficult for the thieves to tow your trailer away.”
Anyone with information regarding any of the incidents mentioned here should contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you wish to remain anonymous.