A £250million floating wind farm off the north-east coast could be located further out at sea to protect coastal views.
Councillors yesterday reviewed a marine licence application for the eight turbine development, which would be located nine miles offshore.
The Kincardine and Mearns area committee said more information is required on plans for the wind farm and its effects on the coast, wildlife and tourism.
Members heard the scheme would be visible from Stonehaven, Muchalls and Newtonhill and called for the turbines to be located further out at sea where they would not be visible.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has previously raised concerns that the scheme could be harmful to both black-legged kittiwakes and Atlantic puffin.
The council is also concerned about the cliff-nesting birds, and asked councillors to back the call for further information on the project’s “visual and cumulative impact” on the area.
Kincardine Offshore Windfarm Limited (KOWL) – set up by former deputy first minister Lord Nicol Stephen and Allan MacAskill – is behind the proposals.
Each turbine on the floating wind farm would be about 577ft tall.
The developers hope the project will lead to investment in the north-east, create jobs and transfer skills from the dwindling oil and gas industry.
However yesterday Kincardine and Mearns area manager, Willie Munro, suggested recommending the developers locate the turbines further from the coast.
Vice-chairman of the committee, Peter Bellarby, said: “Having looked at the visualisations I still maintain where their position produces a visual impact and I think that will have a bad effect on tourism. Tourism is a very important thing to Stonehaven.
“I rather like the idea Mr Munro suggested that they get moved further out to sea. I don’t have objections on principle to turbines at sea.”
North Kincardine councillor, Ian Mollison, said: “I am not sure Portlethen would be able to see them, perhaps Hillside might.
“The principle is sound in my view. Whether it is better off further out (at sea) I couldn’t well say, I haven’t got the visualisations (for that).”
The committee’s comments will form part of the council’s feedback to the application, which will eventually be considered by Marine Scotland.
A spokesman for the development was not available for comment.
“Important project for north-east”
Last night Lord Nicol Stephen said the floating wind farm would be an “important project for the future of the north-east”.
The Lib Dem peer said, if the marine licence for the project is granted, work could get underway next year with an aim for the first turbine at sea by spring 2018.
However the added the stretch of water outlined in the application before councillors yesterday was attached to the licence, and was selected due to the depth of water at the spot.
Lord Stephen said: “It is good news that the councillors are supporting the project in principle. There is a trench in that location which provides deeper water and we need deeper water for the development. It is a carefully chosen site.
“Because there are only eight turbines it needs to be closer to shore then floating full-scale projects would be because of the cost associated with the cabling as well, and connecting to the substation.
“With bigger projects, the intention is to go over the horizon. The advantages of floating technology is it can go further offshore.
“These are the advantages that make floating technology the favourable solution for many people.
“The application will have to be considered by Marine Scotland based on this location.”
He added: “Normally in the north-east any major project would be substantially oil and gas, this is entirely renewables.
“It could give a boost to the local economy in the current climate of the oil and gas industry.”
The wind farm is estimated to be worth between £200million and £250million.
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