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Councillors to assess wind turbine planning

A proposal to build an 80 metre wind turbine on the outskirts of Banff, which planners have advised should be rejected, will be assessed in a site visit.

George Wilson, Turtory, Bridge of Marnoch, wants to build the structure and associated infrastructure at South Colleonard.

Councillors at last week’s Banff and Buchan area committee meeting decided that a site visit would be necessary to determine how the unit would impact the landscape.

Planners have looked unfavourably on the application as it is contrary to their planning policies.

Planning officer Paul Duthie said in a report to councillors: “The scale and siting of the proposed development would have a significant and detrimental visual impact on the cliffs of the coast and its surrounding area, which is currently largely unspoiled by obtrusive or discordant features.

“In relation to local and wider areas, the proposed turbine, in conjunction with the significant number of other large-scale turbines already operational and consented, would further increase the adverse cumulative impact to the detriment of the landscape across this area of Banff and Buchan.

“This is due to the scale of the proposed wind turbine, the scale of the approved turbines in the surrounding area and the proximity of the developments to one another.

“The proposed turbine would have a strong visual relationship with and significant landscape impact on the setting of the coastal zone due to the close proximity to each other, the large scale of the turbine and the intervening.”

A spokesman for Mr Wilson’s agent Green Cat Renewables told the meeting that the project’s primary purpose was to produce electricity and that the North-east of Scotland had one of the best wind resources in Europe.

He added: “The power generated from the turbine would provide power for 500 homes.

“Aberdeenshire Council received 19 objections to the turbine but none of these residents are in the immediate area of the proposed site.

“The key issues are the landscape and visual impact of the coastal area and the cumulative impact on the Banff and Macduff area.

“It is a rolling landscape so the views of the sea come and go and intermittent. The cumulative impact is common to all turbine applications.

“This proposal would contribute to Scottish Government renewable energy targets locally and nationally.”

Objector Caroline Hobbs said: “The landscape cannot accommodate this wind turbine, as within 5km of the site there are 26 wind turbines.

“The view of Duff House driving over from Banff Bridge from Macduff has already been damaged by the three large-scale turbines at Strath of Brydock and will be worse if this one is added to the landscape.

“The landscape is saturated with turbines around Banff and councillors should either carry out a site visit or heed the advice of the planners.”

In a vote councillors were 5-3 in favour of the site visit rather than refusing the application, and it will be carried out on Tuesday, November 19.

Meanwhile, a bid to build five 100m turbines at land near Crudie was withdrawn.

Jamie Grant had applied to construct the wind farm at Hill of Fisherie but planners had recommended it for refusal as it was contrary to multiple planning policies, including a potential adverse impact on communications to aeroplanes.

Also an appeal to the Scottish Government by Alexander Summers to erect a 46m turbine at Stonewells, Gamrie, was dismissed.

Holyrood reporter Richard Bowden concluded: “The case put forward in support of the appeal proposal does not provide sufficient justification to override the outstanding concerns in respect of likely adverse impacts of the development.”

• Public consultation meetings regarding Aberdeenshire Council’s Local Development plan, which includes wind turbine development, will be held in Banff’s Fife Lodge Hotel tomorrow (Wednesday) night and at Turriff’s Gateway Community Centre on Thursday evening, both starting at 7pm.