English-based friends and associates of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who objected to plans for a wind turbine near her former Scottish home, have been dismissed as “King’s Road aristocrats” by a local councillor in favour of the scheme.
Highland Council has approved proposals for the structure to be built 600 yards from Castle of Mey, near John O’Groats, where the Prince of Wales is a regular visitor and where he is planning to holiday next week.
The plans led to 50 objections, including several from high profile former associates of the late royal. At least half of the objectors did not live in Scotland.
Among those who sent in complained about the scheme, in Caithness, were two biographers of the Queen Mother: London-based William Shawcross and Hugo Vickers, from Tadley, in Hampshire.
Other objectors included: Niall Hall, a former aide of the Queen Mother, who gave his address as a club in central London, as well as several former equerries, including: Richard Jenkins, from Dorset, Jeremy Stopford, from Hants, Mark Grayson, from London and Roly Grimshaw, from Wiltshire. Prudence, Lady Penn, a former lady in waiting of the Queen Mother, objected too, although she did not give an address.
Ashe Windham, the chairman of the trust that runs the Castle of Mey and another former equerry, as well as the Earl of Caithness also protested.
Alex MacLeod, an independent nationalist councillor who sat on the planning committee, said there had been little local objection to the scheme and accused “phantom” protesters of abusing the system. He suggested many were “aristocrats” from London’s “King’s Road”.
He added: “We have to be as careful as possible we are not facilitating phantom objectors. We have to accept that wind farms are controversial and will attract a lot of public thought, but it needs to go through the correct process.
“If I see a project has a significant local objection, I get a better flavour of how that has been received locally. In the Castle of Mey objection, there was hardly any local objection, it was mostly from aristocrats living on the King’s Road. Planning policy has got to reflect the priorities of the Highlands.”
The council has revealed that many objectors did not provide an address. Of those that did, 25 resided in England, 15 had a home in Caithness and two lived in the parish of Canisbay – the site of the turbine.
None of the objectors, however, gave an address on the King’s Road. The nearest was in Holland Park, where Peter Norman, another former equerry, lives. He said people should be allowed to object to wind turbines, regardless of where they lived.
“I don’t live near the King’s Road and I wouldn’t particularly describe myself as an aristocrat. The whole question of wind farms is emotive, wherever they are and I am sceptical about their efficiency. That is why I objected.”
The council is now introducing a new system where anyone objecting to or supporting an application will have to include a postal address. The online template already requires such information but in future emails and letters will also require an address before they are officially recorded.
Plans for the turbine were lodged by a local farmer, David Barrogill Angus. The initial scheme, for a 20kw, 130ft turbine, was rejected by planners in 2011.
But last month, the council approved a smaller (91ft), quieter, more powerful (80kw) turbine – which is actually nearer the castle than the previous application.
Planners accepted the turbine would have an “unwelcome effect on the setting of the castle and its designed landscape”, but following the height reduction, objections from both the council’s historic environment team (HET) and Historic Scotland (HS) were removed, and the scheme was approved.
The castle has been run as a tourist attraction by a trust following the death of the Queen Mother, in March 2002.
The Queen Mother first saw what was then Barrogill Castle in 1952, while mourning the death of her husband, King George VI. It was the only home she actually ever owned.
A council spokesman said: “In future, all objectors in any form must have a postal address.”
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