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Turbines plans are blown out

Planning permission for two controversial wind turbines in north east Fife has been turned down by councillors.

One 67-metre turbine was planned for a site near Lochmalony Farm by Rathillet, with the other, at 54 metres, proposed for Demperston Farmhouse, Strathmiglo.

Opposition to both turbines included their visual impact on the surrounding countryside.

Members of Fife Council’s north east planning committee were told that there were 42 letters of objection to the Rathillet turbine.

Councillors – who also heard that there were 28 letters of support – had previously deferred a decision so they could visit the site.

Council planning case officer Kathleen Illingworth said in a report that the applicant, from Glasgow, wanted to erect the triple-blade turbine on open farmland.

“Taking into account the relevant provisions of the development plan, planning supplementary guidance and national guidance, it is considered that the proposed development is generally acceptable, provided that there are no significant adverse impacts upon residential amenity and the built or natural environment.

“There is a general acceptance that wind turbine developments need to be located in the countryside, “ said Ms Illingworth.

Recommending approval, she said the turbine represented a renewable energy proposal that would count towards Scottish Government targets.

Councillor David MacDiarmid was highly critical of the montage provided by the applicant which, he said, did not show the stunning scenery.

Planning service manager Alastair Hamilton said applicants were challenged about such photos. He added, however, that agents always tried to put plans forward in the best light – and applications for turbines were no different in this respect.

Councillor MacDiarmid moved refusal on various grounds, including the impact on landscape, impact on Kilmany and the cumulative impact of other turbines nearby. Backing came from Councillor Andy Heer.

After several votes, refusal was decided finally by the casting vote of chair, Councillor Francis Melville, on the grounds outlined by Councillor McDairmid.

Commenting on the application for the turbine near Strathmiglo, Ms Illingworth pointed out that a previous plan for an 84-metre structure had been withdrawn following concerns about its size and impact on the A listed Pitlour House.

Among the 36 letters of objection was one from the local community council, whose concerns included the impact on the listed property and distraction to drivers.

Council planners backed conditional approval.

Councillor MacDiarmid, who again moved refusal, said Pitlour House was the second most important A listed property in the area after Falkland Palace. The proposal was contrary to several planning policies.

Fellow local member, Councillor Donald Lothian, also moved refusal, on the visual impact on the surrounding landscape. He felt the impact on Pitlour House had been overstated.

There was no support for the application, with Councillor Melville again having to exercise her casting move over the opposing reasons for refusal. She opted to support the multiple grounds for rejection.