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MoD takes wind out of turbine firm’s sails  

Credit:  By Jamie Buchan | The Press and Journal | Published: 22/04/2013 | www.pressandjournal.co.uk ~~

Defence chiefs have mounted a bid to block Buchan’s biggest windfarm as complaints against the project soar to more than 1,000.

Green energy firm PNE Wind UK has claimed widespread backing for its highly contentious eight-turbine development at Hill of Braco, south of Peterhead.

But as of last night, the number of letters and e-mails to Aberdeenshire Council, calling for the scheme to be scrapped, stood at just over 1,040. Only a handful – understood to be fewer than five – have written in support of the plan.

The majority of opponents argue the area is already too cluttered with turbines, with some claiming the project could cause irreversible damage to a site of scientific interest, known as the Moss of Cruden.

Developers are now facing a more serious threat in the shape of a written objection from theMinistry of Defence.

The military body claims that the proposed turbines could obstruct radar signals at RAF Buchan, some five miles away.

“Ultimately, this would compromise the capability of Air Defence operation staff to detect threats to the UK airspace and control aircraft at range,” a spokesman said.

The MoD also argues that the masts would have “unacceptable interference” to a Met Office radar at nearbyHill ofDudwick.

An MoD objection is widely regarded as a kiss of death to turbine developments in the north-east corner.

Councillors are unlikely to support any proposal which has been dubbed a risk to national security.

Last night, Edinburghbased PNE Wind remained defiant in the facing of growing opposition.

A spokesman said: “We are already actively working to address the concerns that have been raised in the representations to Aberdeenshire Council which, i n many cases, have already been considered in detail during the development process and are included in the planning application.

“The impact of wind turbines on radar in Buchan is something we are aware of andwewill continue to discuss with the MoD how to ensure that there will be no detrimental impact on radar installations if the Hill of Braco Wind Farm is consented.”

He added: “Through consultation, we know that visual and landscape impact is a key local consideration and have taken this fully on board as we have developed the size and layout of Hill of Braco.

“We believe the proposals we have submitted to Aberdeenshire Council are sensitively designed to ensure this impact is carefully managed.”

PNE claimed support for its plan, citing a phone poll of residents which found that – of 346 households questioned – 43% were in favour, while 21% were neutral and only 30% against.

The company spokesman added: “We remain committed to delivering a project that will contribute towards national energy needs and provide a community fund of £100,000 each year to the local area.”

The firm had originally proposed to build 12 turbines at the site when it unveiled its plan just over a year ago.

“This was reduced to eight following talks with locals. Their height was also scaled back from around 400ft to 330ft.

Last night, campaigner Michele Emslie, of Blackhills, said the proposed community fund was discussed at a meeting with residents called byPNElast week.

“Residents feel that the discussion of community benefits prior to a planning application decision is extremely manipulative and bad conduct,” she said.

“The damage that this development will do for the area far outweighs any ‘community benefit’ that they offer.”

The plans are expected to be brought before members of the Buchan area committee for a decision in the coming months.

Source:  By Jamie Buchan | The Press and Journal | Published: 22/04/2013 | www.pressandjournal.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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