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Turbines at centre of police probe approved

Controversial wind turbine plans which led to a police probe into alleged irregularities were approved by councillors yesterday.

Grampian Police seized papers and a petition claiming support for a trio of 260ft green energy towers at Hilton, near Banff.

Officers are investigating allegations that some residents who signed the petition had only agreed to back a small-scale, single-turbine development, not three 800kw masts.

A force spokesman said inquiries were ongoing.

Yesterday, plans for Backhill of Culbirnie, Little Blairshinnoch and Hill of Curbine were passed by councillors, despite concerns that the area had reached “saturation point” for turbines.

Planning officers had called for the proposals to be rejected on the grounds it would have a negative impact on the local landscape. They said the cumulative effect of turbines in the rural area had become unacceptable.

Each of the three single turbine proposals attracted around 100 letters and emails from residents.

The majority came out against the plan . Landowner Mary Cumming, who has been working with Turriff- based Muirden Energy on the project, said that the 250-signature petition had been withdrawn after “allegations by people against turbines”.

Alex Fowlie, of Muirden, said the only homes which would be affected by noise were the closest ones, which were owned by the developers.

Speaking at yesterday’s meeting of the Banff and Buchan area committee at Fraserburgh, objector Daffyd Neale, of Hilton Cottage, told councillors that two turbines had been installed 2km from his home.

“Originally, we weren’t worried about noise problems, but we’ve since discovered otherwise.”

Committee members voted in favour of each of the three proposals, but they shared concerns that the area was close to capacity.

Chairman Sidney Mair said: “I feel that councillors are being put in a very difficult position here.

“What we need is strong direction from the Scottish Government.

“We are reaching saturation point now.”