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Fresh bid for windfarm attracts more than 1,000 objection letters

The developer behind plans to site huge turbines on a Moray landmark is making a fresh bid to win backing for its scheme.

The Brown Muir Hill windfarm proposal attracted 1,300 objections from the public – and was rejected by the local authority in Scotland.

But campaigners who battled to block the project have been left furious after green energy firm Vento Ludens lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government.

The firm wants SNP ministers to overrule councillors and pave the way for it to erect a dozen 420ft turbines.

Members of the local authority feared the height and density of the masts on the 450-acre site would ruin the landscape.

Campaigners also said the development would “completely dominate” the hill, and would be visible from Findhorn to Cullen.

But Vento Ludens insists measures which included reducing the number of turbines from 19 to 12 during the planning stages should have allayed those fears.

The firm’s development director, Mike Kelly, said: “We went back to the drawing board and redesigned the windfarm following our first application, and we firmly believe we had addressed the issues raised then.

“We were disappointed by the officer’s recommendation to refuse the windfarm, but were heartened that the vote at the planning committee was so close.

“In the circumstances we feel it is appropriate to appeal against the council decision.”

The company has claimed the local authority’s concerns over the siting of the development were “narrowly focussed”.

It has detailed the case for the project in a 121-page dossier submitted to the Scottish Government.

Members of the Save the Brown Muir action group spent more than four years fighting the scheme and were jubilant when it was rejected in September.

Group member George Herraghty said there would be “champagne corks popping all over Moray”.

Last night, objector Derek Ross accused Vento Ludens of “arrogance”.

He added: “Here we are talking about 420ft high turbines on an 800ft hill – they will completely dominate the landscape for miles around.

“The council reached a decision on this matter, and we thought we had finally gained some closure on it.

“This just flies in the face of local democracy and if it goes ahead it could severely damage Moray’s tourist trade.

“It is an arrogant course of action to take, and dismissive of the people in this area.”

Speyside Glenlivet councillor Pearl Paul incurred the wrath of objectors when she led calls for Moray Council to approve the development.

Yesterday, she maintained many residents were in favour of the plans.

She added: “I’m prepared to accept whatever decision the government may make.

“There are quite a lot of folk in this area who are happy with the idea of the windfarm going ahead.”

With votes tied at six apiece during last year’s meeting, it was planning committee chairman Chris Tuke’s casting vote which thwarted the proposal.

The Heldon and Laich member said he had “seen nothing that would change his mind” since then on whether the development should go ahead.