Communities in East Perthshire and the Carse of Gowrie are to meet next month to discuss controversial wind power plans that could change the face of their landscape for ever.
Giant turbines, each 135 metres tall, could be erected near Balbeggie, from where they will tower over surrounding villages and homes.
They would be the tallest ever raised in Perth and Kinross – many metres higher than those at Griffin Forest (125 metres) and Calliacher (109.8) near Aberfeldy – and would be visible for miles.
The plan is being driven forward by renewables specialist the Banks Group, which has now taken the first step towards the creation of an eight-turbine windfarm.
The developer this week submitted a planning application to Perth and Kinross Council for the erection of an 80-metre wind monitoring mast, which will be used to assess the suitability of the site on the 3,600-acre Bandirran Estate for the development.
The application is likely to be controversial and the developer has been in contact with Burrelton and District, Errol and Inchture Community Councils.
Managing director Colin Andersonoffered each a brief overview of the proposals and has signalled his intention to attend future meetings as the plans become more detailed.
Anti-windfarm campaigners have warned of the creep of wind power projects into lowland Scotland.
Speaking to The Courier last year, members of the Gask and Strathearn Protection Society (GASPS) – set up to oppose plans for a wind park near Tibbermore, to the west of Perth – said that “no village, town or city is safe from this terrible blight”.
And in October the group led anti-windfarm campaigners in a march on the SNP conference in Perth to protest against the Scottish Government’s green energy policies.
In its supporting statement, submitted alongside the wind mast application, the Banks Group states the belief that the development would help to meet the “ambitious” renewable energy targets set by the Scottish Government.
A spokesman said: “The construction (of the proposed wind mast) will enable the collection of data to measure the wind characteristics which will be used to assist in the design of any subsequent windfarm proposals and inform the selection of turbines in the event that planning consent is granted for a wind farm at Bandirran (which would be subject of a separate planning application).
“It is considered that there would be no detrimental impact on the quality and character of the area due to the low visual impact and temporary nature of the wind monitoring mast.
“A clear environmental and economic benefit exists in that investigation into the potential of the site to generate power by harnessing the wind.”
He went on: “National, regional and local policies are all in support of renewable energy development to which this wind mast application at Bandirran relates.
“As such, this application should be considered acceptable without prejudicing any subsequent application for a windfarm proposal at Bandirran.”
During initial meetings with community groups, Mr Anderson said he placed great importance upon consultation and would continue to consider the views of locals.
Members of Inchture Community Council will, however, discuss the proposals in detail for the first time at a meeting in the village next week.
The developers are then expected to attend a later meeting, provisionally scheduled for April or May, at which the plans will be the main topic for discussion.
That meeting could be held in the village of Rait, which would find itself overlooked by the turbines.
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