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Sandend residents vow to fight windfarm development to the ‘bitter end’

A tiny north-east community has vowed to fight a major windfarm development to “the bitter end”.

Local residents in Sandend have been battling since the start of the year to stop offshore windfarm cables landing at the village’s beach.

The sands are regarded as a “jewel in the crown” for Scottish surfing and fears have been raised the infrastructure would destroy them.

Last night, villagers held private talks with Banffshire and Buchan coast MSP Stewart Stevenson.

It is understood Mr Stevenson listened to the concerns raised by residents and pledged to help where he can.

Stewart Ingram, vice-chairman of Fordyce, Sandend and district community council, said they were determined to continue their battle against the Moray West development.

He added: “There’s still a lot of feelings about getting on and fighting it to the bitter end.

“I hope Mr Stevenson will be able to support us as much as he can.

“The beach is such an ideal place for this to come onshore because it won’t cost a lot of money. It would be quite a simple process getting it in to Sandend.”

As part of efforts to fight the proposal, locals have also launched the Save Our Sandend campaign and a petition against the project secured more than 5,000 signatures.

Ian Sutherland runs a surf school based at Sandend beach and hopes they have managed to persuade Mr Stevenson to see their point of view.

He said: “It was great to have him here and we are glad that he is listening.

“Our position on this hasn’t changed and we are waiting to see if they [the developers] go for full planning permission.

“I’m sure Mr Stevenson will want to meet the developers, but we hope we have convinced him with our argument.”

The Moray West Offshore Windfarm involves deploying 90 turbines off the coast of the Moray Firth and could provide power for 900,000 homes.

Sandend could become the location for giant cables connecting the turbines with a substation near Keith.

Moray West, the company behind the windfarm proposal, has been consulting with locals on the project.

Their officials held public events in Sandend, Buckie and Portsoy to showcase their plans. The consultation closed earlier this month.

Planning permission would be required from Aberdeenshire and Moray councils.