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Horse Society tilts at turbines

The British Horse Society has strongly condemned plans for a wind turbine project near a specialist north-east riding school.

The group, which is the UK’s biggest equine charity, believes the green energy scheme at Banff could force the closure of an accredited horse training centre.

Balhagan Equestrian Services, at Longmanhill, specialises in breaking and schooling horses, as well as training adults, children and disabled riders.

But it is thought the centre would be killed off if plans for a twin-turbine project at nearby Newton of Foulzie get the go-ahead. E-Gen Partners, based at Berwick, wants to instal a pair of 260ft towers on land 700 yards from Balhagan.

Local authority planners have called for the scheme to be rejected when it comes before Banff and Buchan councillors next week. Officials say the turbines would have a detrimental i mpact on t he equestrian business and could also hit tourism and the local economy.

In a letter to planners, Helene Mauchlen, Scottish development officer with the British Horse Society, argues that the turbines will sound the deathknell for Balhagan.

“While most horses can get used to working in and under turbines eventually, there are some that never will and a business that specialises in young horses and teaches novice riders simply cannot safely thrive in the shadow of wind turbines,” she said. “Horses are a major economic driver in Aberdeenshire and yards like Balhagan are the mainstay of the industry.”

She added that each horse will put around £1,700 into the local economy.

Fiona Mackinnon, who set up the service five years ago, said last night: “This is only the second wind turbine application in Scotland which the British Horse Society has objected to. They have nothing against these kind of developments, but they realise the devastating impact it could have on the centre.”

Planners said the plan attracted 50 l etters and e- mails of support, but nearly 70 from objectors.