A pair of Angus windfarm applications with a combined value in excess of £30 million have been rejected by councillors.
Development standards committee members decided that both the Corse Hill proposal for the coastline between Arbroath and Carnoustie and the Carrach plan in the glens near Kingoldrum were unacceptable in terms of the visual impact they would have on the county’s landscape.
Each application was decided at the vote, the seven-turbine Corse Hill bid in accordance with an official refusal recommendation.
However, the Carrach refusal saw a conditional approval report overturned after Kirriemuir councillor Jeanette Gaul moved to block the nine-windmill scheme of smaller turbines on landscape and residential impact grounds.
Committee members firstly considered Corse Hill, where West Coast Energy was hoping to locate the 17.5MW scheme of turbines stretching 125 metres to blade tip.
A council planning officer said that the test in places like Easthaven ”is in judging whether visual impact is acceptable”.
He said: ”In our view the ‘lavender test’ (a question of whether a dwelling becomes undesirable to live in) for the two closest properties would be failed.”
At nearby Nether Kelly, he added, properties would also have unacceptable direct views of the windfarm and the development ”would take up a fair degree of the horizon” for half a dozen or so properties at Arbirlot.
Ian Bancroft of Easthaven Residents’ Association said he was aware of the need to develop renewable energy in Angus but that did not translate to ”a panic to build industrial wind factories”.
Carnoustie resident Rodger Brunton and former councillor Peter Murphy spoke in support of the proposals, Mr Murphy asking that the decision could be taken on another day by full council ”to allow for a more sensible decision” detached from emotions.
Carnoustie and Arbroath community councillors Ralph Morris and Mike Cosans said their consultation processes had received no objections.
Mr Morris said: ”We (Carnoustie) do take in Easthaven… and I’m a little bit astounded no one has come forward to make a representation.”
West Coast Energy planning and development director Steve Salt said no statutory consultees had objected – something he thought was ”unique to Angus if not Scotland”.
Committee convener Rob Murray moved to accept the report’s recommendation, refusing the application.
Councillor Bob Spink seconded, saying: ”We have a beautiful coastline here and the coastal strip is invaluable to tourism. It must be protected.”
Depute provost Alex King proposed an amendment to the report, describing himself to be ”between a rock and a hard place”.
”I recommend approval for the windfarm, with a list of conditions as long as my arm and your arm,” he said.
He was seconded by Councillor Bill Duff.
The plan was rejected by eight votes to three – a similar outcome to the Carrach bid which followed, with a string of objectors speaking against the plan.
Kirriemuir councillor Ronnie Proctor told the meeting: ”Angus is one of the most beautiful, iconic area of Scotland.
”I would hate to think that our county, and the Vale of Strathmore in particular, becomes the valley of death, blighted on the north and south by windfarms.”
A further impassioned plea came from Dr David Johnston, who has spent more than a decade restoring the A-listed Balintore Castle north-east of the site, and said the scheme would be ”the end of this dream”.
Fellow objectors spoke of the ”colossal impact” the windfarm would have on the area, with one calling it a subsidy-funded ”cynical ploy cloaked as a green initiative”.
Those objections, and a claim that the Carrach plan was flawed after being based on an earlier proposal for nearby Mile Hill which did not provide favourable wind readings, were strongly rebuffed by Graeme Richardson on behalf of the applicants.
”We’re happy that we present a project that is locally owned and suitable for the location proposed,” he said.
”Mile Hill has cast a shadow but ours is a different project and on balance we have had more positive feedback than negative.”
Moving refusal, Mrs Gaul said: ”These turbines will be seen from the Angus glens, Coupar Angus, Newtyle, Kirrie Hill, and the list goes on.
”I have concerns about the impact and this is quite significant and very close to people living in the area. This is quite unacceptable, not only for this area but Angus as a whole.”