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Blow for Alyth windfarm plans

Windfarm developers targeting the east Perthshire hills have been told to look elsewhere.

A pair of plans for turbine clusters near Alyth were dealt crushing blows by the council’s planning committee.

The Bamff windfarm was rejected outright and councillors agreed to fight an appeal to the Scottish Government by the backers of the Tullymurdoch complex.

The sites of both are close to the existing Drumderg windfarm and soon-to-be-built Welton of Creuchies turbine grouping, leading to fears of over-development in the previously unspoilt wilderness.

The potential effect on the area’s vital tourist industry was also cited as a major reason for condemning the applications.

Local businesswoman Jill Hobhouse said she and her neighbours were “absolutely delighted” by the council’s stance and warned Bamff developers, 
Scottish Power Renewables, against appealing the decision. The self-catering cottage owner said: “Hopefully the strength of the reports to this committee and the reaction of the council will mean they don’t appeal.

“I surveyed my visitors to the cottage and, of all the people who responded, 98% were against having the windfarm, which would be just two kilometres from the cottage.

“They come to the area for the peace and quiet of the countryside, which would be absolutely shattered by this.

“The company didn’t do any residential amenity impact survey, which was requested of them, so they ignored the council and they ignored us. We all hope this is the end of the matter.”

The Bamff windfarm had also attracted criticism from neighbouring Angus Council, which was concerned about the impact on the scenic countryside.

Roger Clegg, of Kirriemuir Landward West Community Council, also hit out at the proposal, saying it would be too much for residents already “anxious” about Drumderg to bear.

Councillor John Kellas slammed the Bamff proposal, stating Scottish Power Renewables, “want to place them (windfarms) anywhere, irrespective of advice”.

He said: “I’m staggered, given the impact of Drumderg, someone would want to expand the impact on tourism and the wider community.”

Both applications consisted of seven turbines over 100 metres high. The committee was also told the cumulative effect of windfarms across Perth and Kinross could cost the tourist industry over £6 million and as many as 339 jobs.

Douglas Hendry, director of Tullymurdoch developer, RDS Element Power disputed this.

He said: “The Scottish Government accepted there is no evidence of tourist impact at last year’s renewables inquiry, so I’m not sure on what basis council officers are reaching a different conclusion.”

A spokesman for Scottish Power Renewables said: “We are disappointed with today’s decision in relation to our proposals for a seven-turbine windfarm on the Bamff Estate.

“We are a responsible developer of renewable energy and have been working for a number of years on our proposals for Bamff Windfarm. Our detailed planning application demonstrated the extensive work that we have carried out.

“We will now await the details of today’s decision before considering our future options for the Bamff development.”

Meanwhile, committee members approved a plan submitted by Banks Renewables for a controversial 80m wind monitoring mast near Balbeggie.

The wind structure is the first step towards an eight-turbine windfarm, with each tower reaching 135 metres in the sky.

However, Councillor Tom Gray, the committee’s convener, told members that the wind mast application should be treated purely as that and not an application for a windfarm.