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Wind turbine plans blown off course by computer glitch

A technical fault left five windfarm planning applications with the wrong geographical locations, the Evening Express can today reveal.

Aberdeenshire Council’s computer system crashed following a technical issue.

When the system rebooted, the council’s website had automatically moved the locations of five proposed windfarms to different sites, with some up to 37 miles (60km) away.

The move misled web users as to where the plans were proposed for.

The error, which affected proposals dating between June 2010 and January this year, has been exposed by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) who dealt with a complaint from a confused resident in Hatton.

MacWind Ltd was granted permission to build two turbines in the Braco area near the Buchan village.

Last summer, after the council granted planning consent with conditions for two wind turbines near his home, the complainant found out about the planning application.

An SPSO hearing report said: “When he researched the background of the application, he found a defect in the council’s referencing of the site on their website.

“Our investigation found that the council’s website did contain a flaw.

“Anyone responding to the public notice of the application and entering the planning case reference on the search page was directed to a site map.

“This should have been centred on the geographical co-ordinates of the two turbines, but was actually centred on an unrelated locality several kilometres away.”

The fault showed the wind turbines 5 miles (8km) away from where the actual proposed site was.

After detecting the fault, the council also noted that four other proposals had been altered following the system crash.

One planned turbine at Easter Auldtown in Ruthven, near Huntly, was mapped 37 miles (60km) away from the actual site.

This proposal was eventually withdrawn.

Two 32m (105ft) proposed turbines at Lower Cushnie, Gamrie, were 14 miles (22km) out of sync.

The erection of three wind turbines at the Mains of Auchinderran, Aberchirder, were mistakenly sited 0.6 miles (1km) out.

Three proposed 15m (50ft) wind turbines at Millbank, Udny were also shown 0.6 miles out.

The SPSO report said: “The council responded to the concerns by checking some 847 wind turbine applications.