A former deputy first minister has submitted controversial plans for three wind turbines in Aberdeenshire – for the third time.
Nicol Stephen, now Lord Stephen, who set up green energy firm Renewable Energy Ventures after his retirement from Holyrood last year, wants to build the 325ft masts near Alford.
Planning officers have twice had to send the application back to the former Aberdeen South MSP because of “factual inaccuracies” in the environmental statements.
His firm was forced to withdraw both applications but has now resubmitted the proposals – much to the dismay of local objectors, who claim it has been rushed through and still contains errors.
Linda van Weereld, whose house, Craigiestep, would be 560 yards from one of the turbines proposed for Blackhills Farm, Cushnie, said: “We’ve had time to go through the application and we did note that they had addressed some of the issues raised.
“However, there are still inaccuracies and they have mentioned things that are just not evidenced.”
Last night, however, the Liberal Democrat peer’s agent, Green Cat Renewables, played down the claims and said it was unaware of any complaints of errors.
The consultancy also pledged to “set the record straight” if it was wrong. Mrs van Weereld, chairwoman of the Stop Turbines in Cushnie group, said discrepancies included the visual impact on homes and she maintained Green Cat Renewables had “hugely underestimated” the shadow flicker calculation.
She added: “The statement has clearly been a ‘cut and paste’ job as they mention another site rather than Blackhills, which is sheer carelessness.
“We expected there would be a third application but we thought there would be a better attempt to get it right.
“We aren’t impressed that they have done this for a third time. We would have thought they would have made every attempt to nail this down and get it as accurate as possible.”
A spokesman for Green Cat Renewables said: “We are responsible for all aspects of this planning application on behalf of Renewable Energy Ventures. Little information has been made available to us about the nature of these alleged inaccuracies.”
In response to claims of a “cut-and-paste job”, he added: “If we have made any error we will certainly set the record straight.”
He stressed the shadow flicker assessment had been carried out using industry-standard software, while strict guidelines were had been followed to assess the landscape and visual impact of the plans.
Lord Stephen teamed up with former Body Shop director Michael Ross, from Edinburgh, to set up Renewable Energy Ventures after 28 years as a politician representing the northeast.
Their first application for Cushnie was submitted in February last year, but was withdrawn in May with no explanation. It emerged later that the environmental statement contained false claims, including an allegation that objectors living near the proposed turbine site had a financial interest in the scheme.
The developers were then left red-faced after resubmitting the application six months later – only for it be sent back after council officials noted the location of two turbines on the site plan did not match the grid references given on the environmental statement.
Planners told the firm to resubmit a third “consistent and accurate” application to avoid wasting any more time.
also published online as “Peer hopes third time lucky for turbine plan”]
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