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Plans for new wind farm thrown out by councillors amid plane crash fears

Councillors have thrown out plans for another wind farm near Stonehaven voicing fears the giant structures could cause aeroplanes to crash – despite there already being more than 50 turbines in the area.

The proposed development of 11 wind turbines, each measuring 135 metres high, went before Aberdeenshire Council’s Kincardine and Mearns area committee.

Energy firm ESB submitted the plans for the Craigneil site to the west of Stonehaven, and won the backing of council planners.

But councillors raised concerns over the potential visual impact of the wind farm, as well as the effect on the native red kite population and on the radar systems of planes arriving at Aberdeen International Airport.

Although there were no objections from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) or Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), committee chair Wendy Agnew said she was concerned devices on the turbines, designed to ensure they show up on radar systems, would fail.

Mrs Agnew said the turbines “could lead to an airliner coming down somewhere” if “mitigations” were not put in place.

Mrs Agnew is not the first politician to raise concerns about the likelihood of the structures causing a plane crash.

In fact, a decade ago former US President Donald Trump suggested that an offshore development near his Menie course could result in catastrophe.

He also hit out at wildlife charities, including the RSPB.

ESB’s renewables expert Brian Hegarty insisted software had been developed which would alert both the MoD and the CAA to the turbines’ presence at Craigneil.

Mr Hegarty also claimed maintenance of the site over the course of its operational life would lead to contracts worth more than £40 million being handed out to Aberdeenshire businesses.

He also said the firm would be willing to explore the possibility of communities partially owning the development.

Farm ‘could have powered 20,000 homes’

“The Craigneil project would generate enough energy to meet the needs of around 20,000 homes – 20% of all households in Aberdeenshire,” Mr Hegarty added.

“Over its operational lifetime, it would displace the equivalent of around one million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“We are confident the project can make a significant contribution to Aberdeenshire Council’s policy of reaching a 75% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and also its commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

“We need to have somewhere which is sufficiently windy but is also set back from areas such as rivers and roads. The site meets a significant number of those.”

Concerns over impact of turbines

If the plans had been approved, it would have meant the number of wind turbines in the immediate area increasing to 66.

A total of 55 turbines already exist in the area, with the majority at the Meikle Carewe and Mid Hill developments – but at 135 metres tall, the new development would have been significantly larger.

In a narrow vote, the plans were rejected on committee chair Mrs Agnew’s casting vote.

Councillor Jeff Hutchison, who supported the rejection of the plans, said: “My concern is the scale of the turbines at 135 metres. We are talking about turbines nearly twice the height of the ones at Meikle Carewe.

“I don’t think we should be putting all our concerns aside to make it commercially viable.

“I just don’t think the location is right for the scale of these turbines.”