ABERDEENSHIRE Councillors were cheered when they agreed to throw out plans for a windfarm on a scenically important hill between the Don and Dee valleys.
The response came from campaigners opposed to a Welsh company's plans, attending a meeting at the Stewart's Hall in Huntly on Tuesday.
Members of the Marr Area Committee accepted the view of their planners that the proposed wind turbines would have an unacceptable impact, on a sensitive site, close to the Cairngorms National Park.
The application, for seven wind turbines and associated development, at Pressendye Hill, Cushnie, Alford, had come from Wales-based Cushnie Wind Energy Limited.
The proposed site for the 125m high turbines was north of Tarland and west of Lochiel Cushnie. The 699-hectare site is partly owned by the Forestry Commission and one individual and is a mix of grouse moor and commercial conifer plantation.
Calculations showed that the development could provide enough electricity to power between 7,500 and 15,500 homes and it was proposed that output should be connected to the national grid.
There were 28 letters of support for the plans but almost 600 opposed to it. They included concerns about the impact of the development on wildlife and area water supply, damage to existing roads by construction traffic, detrimental impact on local historic sites and monuments and a decline in tourism in the area. The Cairngorms National Park Authority and Scottish Natural Heritage were among the objectors.
The Council's Planning Service recommended refusal of the application.
Addressing Tuesday's meeting the agent for the applicant, Roger McMichael, argued that the proposed windfarm would be an excellent wind resource that could possibly lead to a community wind turbine serving the area.
However, Bob Reid, representing a couple who live near the proposed site, Bob Humphries for the Cushnie Action Group and Paul Anderson for the Stop Turbines on Pressendye group, all argued that the development would ruin not only Pressendye Hill but views of the area from different viewpoints, and spoil activities carried out in the area, such as Duke of Edinburgh award scheme events.
Councillor Alastair Ross said that the impact on the landscape would be tremendous and moved that the Committee back the planners' recommendation and refuse the application. He received unanimous backing, with fellow Councillors agreeing that the project was in the wrong place.
Councillor Peter Argyle said that it was "a hugely important landscape" and never had he seen such opposition to such a scheme.
A spokesman for Cushnie Wind Energy told the Piper: "We are disappointed that our vision for a wind farm at Cushnie has been turned down. Following extensive consultation with all the major stakeholders, we are convinced that a wind farm in this area would be of real benefit to the community.
"We will have to consider the council's comments before making a decision on any potential future plans."
Speaking after Tuesday's meeting, a spokesman for Stop Turbines on Pressendye (SToP), the campaign group based in the Howe of Cromar, which the turbines would have overlooked, said: "Obviously, we are delighted, very happy and relieved. All the hard work's been well worth it!
"We were very gratified that there was a lot of emphasis on the objections from the community and it shows that local democracy does have a voice. Everybody who took the trouble to write letters of objection - men, women and children - should feel happy that the councillors have listened to them.
"Certainly, the main point was the potential impact on the landscape and the councillors agreed forcefully with the planning officer, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and the council's own environmental division that the impact was not even the right development in the wrong place, it was just the wrong place for a development.
"The impact of seven turbines on the Howe of Cromar was completely unacceptable. It's always important to fight your corner, whether you win or lose, on this kind of thing. We need to protect the Howe of Cromar and Deeside for the future. We are immensely grateful to everyone who joined our cause."
A spokesman for Cushnie Wind Action Group added: "We are delighted with the result - common sense prevails! "What was also great was the audience participation, as there were 50 or 60 local people there, clapping.
"Let's hope that's an end to it now because the decision was so positively against them."
He said that on the Cushnie side of the hill, around 70% of the community had sent in objections to the proposal.