Anti-windfarm campaigners have slammed councillors for approving a major Perthshire turbines project after it was branded “unacceptable” by planning officers.
Members of Perth and Kinross Council’s development management committee went against planners’ recommendations and unanimously backed the Binn Eco Park at Glenfarg.
Developers Element Power said the four turbines will create around 100 new jobs and would provide enough energy to power nearly 4,500 homes.
But opponents argued that the 377ft masts could pose a potential health risk, create a noise nuisance and be detrimental to the environment.
Protest group Scotland Against Spin said the councillors’ decision came as a surprise.
Chairman Graham Lang, who attended the meeting, said: “While I did think it possible that consent may have been granted against the officers’ recommendations, the unanimous support of the elected members astonished me.
“Surely all councillors present did not find that the commercial gain of the applicant outweighed the strong concerns of 70 planning-based objections from local people, many of whom will suffer significant loss of amenity through noise and visual impact and this for the 25-year duration of the development.”
He added: “I was amazed that the chair did not support his planning officer, in which case he would surely have a seconder and a vote could have taken place.
“Planning is in the public interest and it has not been served by the process in this case when the legitimate concerns of residents were treated with contempt.”
A spokesman for Element Power said: “The development of a windfarm at the site was identified as a crucially important part of the park’s development as it will provide businesses operating at the site with reduced energy costs and improve air quality.
“The expansion plans are expected to increase employment at the facility by 100 additional jobs over a seven to 10 year period.”
In his report, the council’s development quality manager, Nick Brian, said that although there would be local benefits, the plan did not comply with policy.
“It is considered that the scale and design of the proposals as submitted is unacceptable and will have a significantly adverse impact.”
Councillor John Kellas said the scheme offered “tremendous economic benefits”.
He added: “Councillors also felt that it was in a sensible location because it is in a bowl within an area which is already quite industrial.”