On Tuesday I watched in amazement the north planning application committee discussing the Wind Harvest proposal for Caithness.
The MoD had objected on grounds of aviation safety and impact on Lossiemouth in particular. The applicant had failed to reach agreement with the MoD.
The conduct of three SNP Councillors was bordering on ludicrous and certainly could be viewed as dangerous. Cllr Farlow could not understand how a ‘stationary’ turbine could be seen as an aircraft. Although turbines are frequently stationary, how they are viewed on radar is obviously beyond his comprehension.
His question whether, if the MoD were ignored, the approved application could be ‘called in’ was astounding. Why would anyone argue with the MoD when it was citing aviation safety as an objection?
Councillors Maxine Smith and Craig Fraser continued the argument about the credibility of the MoD’s objection. Astonishingly, Cllr Smith said she had consulted with a friend who was an RAF pilot and was informed the turbines were not in the flight path. And yet the Planner’s report states quite clearly that MOD planes fly in the area.
Are these SNP Councillors qualified to give a reasoned assessment of the MoD’s stance or argue against it? Clearly not from the unreasonable comments they made.
With increasing numbers of turbines being speared into Scotland, aviation safety must always be of paramount importance, not something to be tossed around as an insignificant issue at a planning meeting. It’s a very good job that the Chair, the Clerk and the Area Planning Manager had a great deal more common sense.
On a last note, I have read the MOD objection; the reasons for their objection are quite clearly stated, and are repeated very clearly in the Planner’s Report which all Councillors should have read.
So I ask myself why there was an insistence by the SNP Councillors that reasons had not been given, and the determination to challenge the MOD. Is this a new party line?
Letter in the Press & Journal 30th March
Objections to Wind farms
SIR – Mary Young’s letter regarding aviation safety was extremely worrying. When planning councillors think that they know more than the experts at the Ministry of Defence regarding the safe siting of wind turbines you have to ask ‘are they living on the same planet as the rest of us?’
As the SNP party seems on course for another term in Holyrood, may I ask Nicola Sturgeon, if she is returned as first minister, why a valid MoD objection, that the applicant has been unable to address satisfactorily, does not mean an automatic refusal and no route to appeal? Also why members of her party believe they have the expertise to argue with the professionals? I trust she will be pulling these councillors into line.
Letter in the Press & Journal 31 March
Responsibility for Aircraft Accidents
SIR – I fully agree with Lyndsey Ward’s letter (P & J, March 30) since the MoD knows its aircraft best.
One must remember these aircraft, like the Tornado and the Typhoon, are capable of very low speeds at very low levels. They are capable of flying fast at lower levels than the height of these towers.
It must be remembered that an aircraft travelling at 480mph at 200ft is covering eight miles per minute.
If an aircraft is brought down, and the crew killed in such a horrific accident, maybe these councillors and the wind turbine operators should be charged.
It would make them more responsible for their actions and answerable to the courts for their actions.
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