Moray councillors have voiced concerns that the public’s views on wind turbines are being ignored following the latest move to construct a wind farm near Rothes.
Developers Vento Ludens served notice on Friday, March 29, that they have “applied to Scottish Ministers to build and operate a generating station, comprising 19 turbines” on a site approximately five kilometres from Rothes, to the east of the A941 at Brown Muir.
This proposal previously met with fierce opposition from local residents in Moray when it was initially lodged with the local council last year, with more than 2000 objectors protesting against the scheme.
This prompted Moray Council’s planning and regulatory services committee to lodge their own objection to the Scottish Government after cross-party agreement at a meeting in December.
However, Edinburgh-based Vento Ludens, who claim that the turbines would generate enough electricity to power 34,000 homes, have now applied directly to the Scottish Government.
Barry Jarvis, a Labour councillor in Moray, told STV that this signalled a worrying trend.
He said: “There is a danger that we could end up with developers simply bypassing councils and going straight to the Scottish Government to get approval for these kind of proposals, irrespective of what local people think.
“This particular scheme is on such a large scale that it was always going to end up in the hands of the Government, but local people with genuine concerns are being ignored.
“Councillors in Moray, from all parties, have made our position clear. But given how supportive the Government is of these wind farms will that matter?”
Stewart Cree, the council’s Independent convener, said that, as a member of their planning committee, he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the Brown Muir proposal.
But he added there was a need for a debate on preserving local democracy in these issues.
Mr Cree stated: “Communities might feel that developers are being given a second bite of the cherry [with these wind farm applications] when the objectors don’t have the same recourse.”
In December, Labour councillor John Divers maintained he had yet to find one person who supported the Brown Muir proposal.
Commenting on the latest bid, he said: “If anything attitudes have hardened towards the project. But the fear is that the Government will give this their backing and it won’t matter what local people in the Moray area think or how many of them have voiced concerns.”
The SNP’s Graham Leadbitter said he couldn’t comment on the matter.
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