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Moray seeks windfarm moratorium

A freeze on windfarm applications is being sought in Moray while consultation on a new wind energy strategy for the area plays out.

Moray Council will call on the Scottish Government to agree to a moratorium while resident’s views on the controversial issue are sought.

It follows a private debate by the planning and regulatory services committee today, during which a draft policy document was backed.

A council spokesman said members felt it would be inconsistent to accept new wind farm applications while local residents were being given a chance to have their say.

The draft strategy – which says opportunities for further large scale wind turbine developments are “severely limited” in Moray – will now be subject to extensive consultation, running until September 14.

Following consultation, committee chairman Councillor Douglas Ross said a further report would go before councillors summarising comments received prior to the final document being approved.

Once approved, the document will be treated as a material consideration in determining planning applications for all wind turbines over 20 metres in height.

Councillor Ross said: “The committee unanimously agreed to seek this moratorium as we want to make it clear to the people in Moray that we are genuinely consulting and listening to their views.

“It is up to the Scottish Government to agree to this request but I think with the cross-party backing today we have a very strong argument.

“For the next few months we want to hear the varied views from people across Moray on this important issue. I’m also pleased the consultation will run into September so even those away on holiday will get the opportunity to be fully engaged.”

The committee further agreed that the draft document states that developers should not discuss potential community funds before an application is determined.

A dedicated webpage containing all council policy documents relating to wind turbine planning will be set up on the council’s website at www.moray.gov.uk and will go live on July 10.

Copies of the draft guidance will be sent to community councils, area forums and a range of other organisations and interested parties and copies will also be available at Moray Council offices and local libraries. It is also proposed to hold a series of workshop-style public meetings, with the dates and venues still to be finalised.