Plans for a controversial windfarm that locals claim has already split their community have been submitted to Perth and Kinross Council.
After months of delay, Banks Renewables has taken forward its plans to create a “community” wind project near Balbeggie.
The formal application is for six of Scotland’s tallest turbines to be erected on the Bandirran Estate, just five miles from Perth. Each would be up to 132m high and they could be visible for miles around.
Details of the application, contained within a staggeringly-detailed 2,000-page document, have been sent to council planners and local community councils.
The Hamilton-based wind energy expert has consulted extensively with the council, residents and businesses to refine its plans and develop a community partnership proposal.
It has promised opportunities for local businesses during construction, and long-term benefits to communities through a share of its annual revenues.
Banks delayed its planning submission after local people requested further technical information, which led to a series of additional public meetings.
That step has been welcomed but, more controversially, The Courier revealed last year that cash sums were also being offered to residents nearest to the proposed farm on the proviso that they did not object.
The developers denied there was any element of “bribery”, saying that they were being offered merely as “compensation” to mitigate the wind noise that would be caused by the turbines.
Locals, however, claimed that the offers had resulted in the community being riven by suspicion and accusation.
Burrleton and District Community Council secretary Martin Payne said it was to the developers’ credit that they had delayed their application, adding that, “in fairness” to Banks, he and his fellow community councillors would read the document carefully before finally putting forward their views to the council.
He is, however, not convinced that the plan will find much favour with the local populace or local authority.
“Reading through the document, it is clear that Banks know what they are doing and that they have been very thorough.
“Perth and Kinross Council has, however, never approved a windfarm and I think the chances of getting this one through are fairly slim.
“Throughout this process we have continued to hear thoughts on these proposals from local people and most have been opposed.”
Mr Payne continued: “Personally, I don’t think that some parts of Perthshire realise just how clearly they will be able to see this windfarm.
“The height of the hills pales in relation to the turbines – they really are fairly gentle slopes – and I have no doubt they will be seen from points such as Glasgow Road in Perth. They will be a very clear intrusion into the landscape and I fear that they could be very damaging.”
Banks is, however, hopeful that its Bandirran plan will find favour and has continued to highlight the long-term benefits it could offer to Balbeggie and surrounding communities.
Development director Colin Anderson said: “We have listened to extensive feedback and used that to shape our plans, so believe we have come up with the best possible proposal for this area.
“By taking a community partnership approach, we’ll ensure that, if the windfarm is approved, it will have a hugely positive impact on communities surrounding the site for a generation.
“We have made a deliberate effort over the last year or so to involve local people extensively in the development process and have greatly appreciated the willingness of many local people to participate.”
Banks has guaranteed £2.5 million of community funding during the 25-year operating period of the turbines.
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