Protest group is formed over proposed windfarm

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A group of Donside residents have formed a protest group to fight the proposed development of a six-turbine windfarm at Coiliochbhar Hill, near Alford.

According to its website, renewable energy company Infinis identified the potential site in the vicinity of the derelict Tibberchindy farmhouse, around 5km west of Alford. It was considered an excellent location due to its high wind speeds, lack of international or national environmental designations and distance from homes.

The scheme was presented to the community at an exhibition in Alford in November and in response to public comments, Infinis moved the positions of four turbines and lowered the blade tip height of three turbines, to reduce the visibility of the scheme from many viewpoints.

‘No To Tibberchindy Windfarm’ group member, David Roper said: “The turbines, at 115m, would be massive and the highest in the area. This will industrialise the landscape of the Howe.”

Local amateur historian John Macmillan, also a member of the campaign group, said: “A line joining the three major historical sites of Kildrummy Castle, the site of the Battle of Alford and Craigievar Castle would show a triangle encompassing this proposed site. Indeed, the old farmtoun of Tibberchindy, while long derelict, is in itself, a very special place and aerial photographs show archaeological hut circles.”

The development will be on land shared by two country estates - Breda Estate and Brux Estate.

Group supporter, Hugh Andrew said: “This area is famed for wildlife: red squirrel, bats, otter, red and roe deer and badgers are all known to be resident on the estate. Indeed, the landowner is using sightings of osprey and the elusive capercailie in the marketing of his rental properties.”

Simon Beswick and his family of three young children from Glenkindie are concerned about the effect on the local economy.

“People will choose not to live here and, in the long run, this will depress the economy. Schools at Towie, Craigievar and Logie Coldstone are already in a precarious position - any further decline is likely to result in their closure.” The group says it may attract accusations of NIMBY-ism (not in my backyard) but Breda resident, Vicky Dawson said: “I strongly believe that we are only caretakers of the Scottish landscape. It is only our ‘back yard’ fleetingly, during our lifetime, but while it is our backyard we have a duty of care.”

Local resident Drennan Watson added: “The Howe of Alford is probably the classic example of a landform found in Scotland - namely a broad saucer shaped hollow bounded by surrounding hills. Coilliochbhar Hill is the most prominent feature in the landscape at the western end of the Howe.”

The group said in Aberdeenshire, 477 turbines had been approved and 413 were pending, making it the “turbine hot spot of the turbine hotspot that is Scotland!” said Vicky Dawson. “More than 10% of the UKs wind turbines are currently sited or have planning acceptance in Aberdeenshire.”

Formal planning permission has not been lodged but once it is, the group says it will have just three weeks to encourage and co-ordinate objections.

Mr Beswick said: “Inifinis have two years to prepare their submission. We have just a few weeks to respond.”

An Infinis spokesman declined to comment on the issue.