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Windfarm protests are blown away by planners

Protests from locals have failed to halt controversial plans to build 10 more wind turbines on top of Garvock Hill.

Mearns councillors unanimously gave their backing to plans for two extensions to the existing windfarm on top of the hill after being assured the 17 turbines now approved will be the limit.

The existing seven turbines operated by Eneco Wind UK at Tullo Farm on top of the hill will be joined by another 10.

Four of these have previous consent and the other six now have approval from the Kincardine and Mearns area committee of Aberdeenshire Council on two sites to the north, also to be operated by Eneco.

While two applications were lodged separately for the latest development, they were considered jointly by the council’s planning service.

They recommended approval after negotiating removal of three turbines from the original proposals.

The environment agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, says there is no further scope for the hill to accommodate any more than 17 turbines, without “significant cumulative and visual impact.”

The joint plan first came before councillors three weeks ago, but was deferred after hearing from Friends of the Garvock protestor David Johnston.

He claimed there would be little economic benefit, but a huge detrimental impact on the environment.

Nearby resident Tony Allan also voiced serious concern about the noise from the turbines and there was a call for a site visit from Mearns councillor Bill Howatson.

There was also written protest from Mearns Community Council, who claimed 90% of local people were against any more turbines on the Garvock and the “industrialisation” of a sensitive landscape.

Planners conceded the revised plan would move some of the turbines closer to houses and they would be dominant in the immediate vicinity, due to their elevated position.

However, they argued the localised visual impact was not considered to be sufficiently adverse to warrant a recommendation of refusal.

“Location of turbines adjacent to existing operational turbines is considered preferable to more sporadic development,” said Neil Stewart, head of planning and building standards, in his report to the committee.

“Further, the environmental impact will be reduced by reducing the infrastructure requirements and integrated environmental management. In this form, cumulative noise issues can be addressed.”