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Families fight massive windfarm on doorstep

Scores of families in rural Buchan are battling to block plans for the area’s biggest windfarm.

Nearly 100 households have so far complained to Aberdeenshire Council about an eight-turbine development, earmarked for land at Hatton, south of Peterhead.

They believe the scheme will harm wildlife, destroy scenery, devalue properties and lead to more traffic and noise problems.

Objectors also argue that construction of the 330ft masts will cause irreversible damage to an area known as the Moss of Cruden, which scientists say provides vital evidence about prehistoric Buchan.

Green energy firm PNE Wind UK tabled its long-awaited plans for the Hill of Braco project last month.

Local authority planners have since received more than 90 objections from residents calling for the proposal to be thrown out.

Opponents believe the number of complaints will rise further over the coming weeks as the local authority’s public consultation exercise continues. Developers had earlier claimed widespread support for the scheme, citing a phone poll of local residents which found that – of the 346 households questioned – 43% were in favour, while 21% were neutral and only 30% against. As of last night, the council had yet to receive any letters or e-mails supporting the proposal. Residents formed an action group – the Moss of Cruden Awareness Group – to battle the plan, which first emerged in 2009.

Campaigner Michele Emslie, of Blackhills, said last night: “They are trying to build this on land which is right in the middle of our community.

“There are a lot of people living on the edge of this site whose lives are going to be affected by this. That’s why we have to make a stand now.”

She added: “This has certainly brought the community closer. We have rallied together to fight this.”

Objectors said that, despite the company’s pledge to pay back local groups through a community fund, there would be no benefits to the local area.

Last night, a spokesman for PNE Wind said talks with local residents would continue.

“The opportunity to comment on the planning application for Hill of Braco Wind Farm remains open until early next month and PNE continues to meet the community liaison group and local residents interested in our plans,” he said.

“PNE will work closely with key stakeholders, including the local community, to address any issues that have been raised during the formal consultation period.”

He added: “Feedback showed that, from those that attended public exhibitions held in May and December, over 90% found the Hill of Braco windfarm events to be informative.

“An independent telephone survey commissioned by PNE in December showed that the majority took a neutral or supportive stance.”

“In taking our Hill of Braco plans forward, we hope to deliver a project that contributes to Scotland’s energy needs and offers a substantial community benefit fund that will support the local community over the lifetime of the windfarm.”

The proposal is being considered by Aberdeenshire Council planners and is expected to go before members of the Buchan area committee for a decision later this year.