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Warning over wind turbine ‘dominance’

A planning officer issued a powerful warning last week that massive wind turbines were in danger of not only changing the Banffshire landscape but “of becoming it”.

However, she was ignored as councillors approved another four industrial-sized structures for Banffshire.

Planning office Katherine Donnachie had recommended refusal of applications for two 100m turbines at Backhill of Yonderton, Craigston and another two of the sane size at Milton of Fisherie, King Edward.

She warned Banff and Buchan area committee: “in the Backhill of Yonderton area there is in excess of 40 turbine proposals of all sclaes either pending or approved and in Milton of Fisherie there is 50 within 30km.

“This accumulative impact on the landscapes will dominate them and potentially damage the agricultural heartland.

“Scottish Government policy advises that wind turbines of this size must be installed on a suitable site and in our view these are not.

“There is a danger that the accumulative impact will overly dominate the Banff and Buchan area’s landscape and will not only change its character but essentially become it”.

The special meeting last Tuesday had been arranged following councillors’ site visits earlier in the day to Backhill of Yonderton and Milton of Fisherie.

In a report before councillors concerning the Backhill of Yonderton proposal, planners also said “We feel matters have reached saturation and a tipping point in this area”.

The planners further pointed out that the Milton of Fisherie proposal would have “an adverse impact upon the character, setting and integrity of a scheduled ancient monument at Law of Ballgreen”.

Anne Morrison, an objector to the latter application, said: “These industrial structures will impact considerably on the dwellings and the peaceful enjoyment of the area.

“Would it not be more sensible to place them on a site away from homes where they will not have the same impact?

“The area is becoming saturated with turbines and the planning department says adding more will see them become the landscape.

“The local authority planners are following guidelines from the Scottish Government and their recommendation to refuse should be followed”.

The Milton of Fisherie application was submitted by Alan Twatt (Potatoes) Ltd, Easter Cushnie, while the Backhill of Yonderton proposal was by Wilson Strachan of Bridge End Sand and Gravel, Mill of Balmaud.

Committee chairman Sydney Mair said: “There is a Government policy for renewable energy but it has not stipulated how much a landscape can cater for.

“Once one goes up you can’t hide them, the landscape has been spoiled, so where do we stop?”

However, Ms Donnachie insisted that Aberdeenshire Council’s planning department was following Government guidelines and policy in its recommendation to refuse.

Troup councillor Bob Watson declared: “It is time to draw a line in the sand here.

“The amount of turbines in the area are becoming a blight on the landscape and we should go with the planners’ recommendation to refuse”.

SNP councillor Watson found no support for his amendments to the motions to approve both applications, and Councillor Sydney Mair accused of him going against his party’s policy.

Without backing for Councillor Watson’s amendments, the turbines were given the go ahead.

Absent from the committee was Councillor Jack Mair who two weeks’ ago accused councillors of “failing” to protect the countryside with the siting of turbines.