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Campaigners urge Moray and Aberdeenshire councils to think again about any more wind farms 

An open letter has been sent to Aberdeenshire and Moray councils expressing concern about the development of more wind farms in the Upper Deveron Valley.

The document, signed by community councils, charitable bodies and business owners – including Conservatives Moray MP Douglas Ross and Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett – requests an urgent landscape capacity study is undertaken to understand the impact on local communities.

The letter calls for urgent action to undertake “an inter-authority regional landscape capacity assessment” and to put any new developments on the back burner for now.

It argues that previous studies, undertaken in 2014 by Aberdeenshire Council and in 2017 by Moray Council, are out of date.

Why are there concerns?

Four further wind farms are in the process of being developed. If approved, it would take the number of turbines in the area to 148.

Wind turbines dominate the landscape in some parts of Speyside. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

The letter was written under the banner of “Coalition of Community Concern” asking the authorities to consider if they have reached wind farm capacity.

The group has also started the process of establishing what they call a Citizens Assembly to discuss planned developments in the area and the community’s vision for the future.

Following the Scottish Government reporter’s decision to permit a proposed new wind farm development about three miles south-east of Dufftown at Garbet Hill, overturning the earlier refusal of the Moray Council planning committee, the open letter argues the power of decision-making should be with the communities where developments are planned.

The Deveron Valley. Image: DC Thomson

The letter reads: “Previous capacity studies found that the rural landscape in the Upper Deveron Valley was already at saturation point with regard to onshore wind farm developments.

“Given the intensity of developments already permitted across the area, we are extremely concerned that the fragile nature of our community is being damaged by over-development and the character of the area is being changed in ways that threaten to destroy the very things which make it so unique.

“Surrounding the small communities of The Cabrach and Glass, arrays of wind turbines already dominate the landscape and local residents are affected by noise pollution and light flicker.”

Calls for existing plans to be set aside

The letter highlights several regeneration initiatives, such as the Cabrach Distillery project spearheaded by the Cabrach Trust and Highland Rewilding’s project at Beldorney.

The letter continued: “These enterprises rely upon attracting people to work, live in, and visit the area bringing jobs and economic activity to a community which has suffered from decades of population decline.

“This regeneration may be threatened if the attractions of the local landscape and amenity are lost to energy industrialisation with the accompanied turbine saturation making it undesirable for residents to bring up families and to live in the Valley.”

It added pressure on local authorities to show how they were meeting net zero targets this should not fall disproportionately on small and rural communities where the local residents voice is not heard.

The group asks that four applications that are in the planning system for the Deveron Valley to be set aside until the assessment has been completed.

A spokeswoman for Moray Council said: “Officers are reviewing the implications of NPF4 (Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework) and these will be reported to a future planning and regulatory services committee.

“We work closely with neighbouring authorities and they’re consulted on all developments that may impact on their area and this will not change under NPF4.”

Aberdeenshire Council was contacted to comment.

Who signed the letter?

The letter’s signatories are:

• Patti Nelson, chairwoman, Cabrach Community Association.
• Henry Hillgarth, Belcherrie Farms Partnership.
• Alexander Burnett, MSP for West Aberdeenshire.
• Marion Ross, chairwoman, Speyside Community Council.
• Professor Marc Day, Haugh of Glass.
• Douglas Ross, MP for Moray and MSP for Highlands & Islands.
• Councillor Derek Ross, independent Speyside councillor on Moray Council.
• Grant Gordon, chairman, The Cabrach Trust.
• Jack Ingleby, director Aswanley.
• Richard Hammock, chairman, Friends of Clash.
• Professor Julian Newman, Bogancloch Lodge
• Colin and Penny Mackenzie, owners, Castle on The Hill.

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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