Plans for 12 huge wind turbines on a Moray hillside were revealed to the public yesterday.
If approved, the 2.3-megawatt structures, which could measure more than 328ft from the ground to blade tip, would be built at Hill of Glaschyle, on Logie Estate, south of Forres, and could be visible from communities including Findhorn and Burghead.
The proposed windfarm site lies just over a mile east of the A940 Forres-Grantown road.
About 50 residents of the Dunphail area dropped in at Edinkillie Hall to have their say on the outline proposals.
It emerged last night, from about 50 questionnaires handed in after yesterday’s session, that 65% supported the windfarm, 15% had no opinion and 20% were against the development.
Landowner Alasdair Laing was on hand to answer questions alongside Alex Fowlie, business manager at Turriff-based Muirden Energy LLP. Mr Laing is working in partnership with the firm to develop the plans.
Mr Fowlie said the overall feedback had been fairly positive. However, some concerns had been raised about visual and cumulative impact.
“We are keen to consult with local people to see if we are on the right track,” he said.
A “scoping” report has already been lodged with Moray Council and it is hoped a planning application can be submitted by Christmas. If approved, construction could start in 2015 at the earliest.
Mr Fowlie said the responses would be used to influence the design process before the next stage of consultations. He said it was important for local people to be aware of the proposals at the earliest stage.
Mr Laing said he was pleased with yesterday’s turnout at the four-hour consultation. “It shows people are taking an interest,” he said. “Some have been positive, some negative. But that’s why we are doing this process.”
He said community-benefit funds were being considered. However, as the local community council was currently dormant, it was difficult to find groups to consult.
Discussions have already been held with the Forres Community Trust.
Local resident Steven Young, 40, who lives at Glaskyle, about a mile from the site of the proposed windfarm, said he was in favour of the plans.
“I’m all for it,” he said. “It’s great for the community and helps the area. The sight of them doesn’t bother me. I was only concerned about the noise, but they said it will not be a problem.”
Local SNP councillor Aaron McLean also attended the event. He said: “I have nothing against windfarms as long as people living in the close vicinity are happy. Their views need to be mostly taken into account.”
Meanwhile, property firm Bidwells is calling on local landowners to get involved with the ongoing Moray Council consultation on new planning guidance for the development of wind turbines in the county.
Scottish Government policy requires each planning authority to provide a clear indication of the potential development of windfarms in their area. The supplementary planning policy guidance, entitled Moray Onshore Wind Energy, identifies preferred search areas for various scales of turbine schemes.
Clive Meikle, partner at Bidwells in Inverness, said: “Moray Council has identified a number of sites in the region that may be suitable for different sizes of wind turbines.
“Landowners who think they may have sites suitable for medium or large-scale wind turbine proposals should seriously consider getting in touch with us.
“Bidwells is extremely well placed to advise on the issues surrounding this consultation.”
Representations or indications of interest must be received by the local authority by Friday.