Over 100 people attended a public meeting about the Mull Hill windfarm proposal on Tuesday night.
It was standing room only in Fowlis Wester Village Hall for the East Strathearn Community Council-organised event, which was chaired by Councillor George Hayton.
Andrew Smith, development manager for applicants Force 9 Energy, and Maureen Beaumont, head of the opposition Sma’ Glen Protection Group 2, each gave 15-minute presentations.
There was then a question and answer session from members of the public, which seemed split between those for and those against the project.
Andrew Smith started by stating he was there to “dispel the myths” about the project and explain why windfarms are needed and why the Mull Hill plans in particular were good.
Maureen Beaumont began her presentation by explaining the history of the site and windfarm applications and stated “we can win again”, in reference to the failed Abercairny windfarm campaign.
Questions from the audience ranged from the manufacturing of turbines and jobs to the Beauly to Denny powerline and whether or not Force 9 Energy or Abercairny Estates would sign a legally binding agreement that no further turbines would be put up.
Among those in attendance were community council representatives from Comrie and Muthill, as well as councillors Ann Cowan and Anne Younger and Conservative MSPs Liz Smith and Murdo Fraser, who both asked pressing questions of Force 9.
Before the meeting Liz Smith said: “In recent years the confidence which communities have in the planning system surrounding proposed windfarms has been severely diminished.
“Local communities need to be heard and they need to know that their voice matters. People across Strathearn have seen what happened with the Beauly-Denny power line and with several other windfarms in Perthshire and Kinross-shire. That is why they are clearly concerned about the proposed wind farm at Mull Hill.
“Local campaigners feel they stand little chance when it comes to competing against the large financial resources of the energy companies, that the current planning legislation is stacked heavily against local communities and that developments are often a fait accompli before they even start.”
Maureen Beaumont was put on the spot, with one man asking what she would prefer if she was not in favour of wind energy. The local business owner answered that she was pro-nuclear and if nine turbines were needed she would “put them on existing sites” instead of new locations like Mull Hill.
Another man accused her of using East Strathearn Community Council for her “pet project” but Councillor Hayton fielded that question, stating that at a recent meeting of the CC Maureen had left the room and stepped down for that item of the agenda.
Councillor Hayton also pointed out that at the time of the meeting official representations to the council about the planning application were about neck-and-neck in terms of support and objection.
Following the meeting Andrew Smith said: “I was pleased with the high level of support in the room from supporters of the Mull Hill windfarm and I am grateful for the opportunity to explain the many benefits the wind farm will bring and dispel some of the myths about the project.”
He added that anyone who wants more information could visit www.mullhillwindfarm.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the project information line on 0800 169 5290.
Anyone who would like to make a representation can write to Perth and Kinross Council, Development Management, Planning and Regeneration, Pullar House, 35 Kinnoull Street, Perth, PH1 5GD.
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