Long-running plans for a £4m wind farm at Milnathort have been blown off course by councillors.
A report before Perth and Kinross Council’s development management committee recommended the refusal of the three 74m-high turbines on land at Tillyrie Hill.
And a number of residents made deputations for and against the Lomond Energy scheme at an hour-long meeting of the committee in the council chambers.
Councillor Joe Giacopazzi made a staunch defence of the plans, stating that the Milnathort Future Trust would receive £24,000 in revenue from the wind farm every year.
Cllr Giacopazzi described the sum as “well above” the amount usually paid to community funds by wind farm developers.
He suggested the money could be used to the benefit of residents in a number of ways, such as improving flood defences.
But councillor Mike Barnacle said: “The planning officer has stated there is no binding method to make sure this money is delivered.”
Cllr Giacopazzi assured Mr Barnacle: “This is written down. It is not smoke and mirrors. This will happen.”
Councillor Alan Livingston then drew attention to the fact the application had received 88 letters of objection, and only 12 letters of support.
Cllr Giacopazzi replied: “The people who object to wind farms are the same people who object to every single wind farm application in Scotland.
“The Milnathort Future Trust sent out 1700 questionnaires and I understand that, out of all those returned, half of them supported the scheme.”
Councillor Grant Laing then asked, “If they support the plans, why do they not write to planning?” to which Cllr Giacopazzi replied, “People who write to planning only do so to object.”
The “real issue”, claimed Councillor Ian Campbell, was that “the planning officer has reached the decision that there would be adverse cumulative impact on visual amenity in the area”.
Taking the comment as a reference to the nearby Lochelbank Wind Farm, Cllr Giacopazzi replied: “How well do you know Kinross? You cannot see Lochelbank Wind Farm from Milnathort.”
Committee convener Tom Gray drew a line under the matter, and the committee heard deputations in favour of the scheme from agent Steve Macken and farmer Mark Thompson.
Milnathort resident Peter Hessey and the chairman of the Friends of the Ochils, Stuart Dean, also made representations, urging the committee to reject the plans.
Councillor Callum Gillies moved to approve the report recommending refusal, with fellow committee member Mike Barnacle seconding the motion.
Cllr Barnacle added: “Whilst I am sympathetic to the idea of a community benefit scheme, it cannot be delivered through a binding condition.”
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