Councillors debate wind turbine issue

Plans for three 88ft-high wind turbines at Bankhead Farm at Lumphanan were backed by councillors at Tuesday’s Marr Area Committee meeting.

Aberdeenshire Council’s planning officials had already thrown their weight behind the plans, despite 40 letters of objection from members of the public.

They raised concerns including that the turbines would spoil the local scenery and deter visitors from the area.

A report to the committee said: “Small scale wind energy proposals are generally encouraged where they do not give rise to significant impacts as they play a small but important role in generating onsite clean, renewable energy.

“The proposal has been assessed against all relevant considerations and will have no significant or unacceptable impacts and is therefore considered acceptable.”

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Jill Webster (Banchory and Mid Deeside) said: “There are a considerable number of letters of objection regarding this application and many make adverse comment on wind turbines in the landscape in general being clearly against any turbines at all in any location.

“I do share the fear that there are so many applications in the pipeline - literally hundreds in Aberdeenshire - that the landscape could be severely adversely impacted if more and more applications are approved. We have to look at our policies to address this difficult issue.

“However, each application must be considered on its own merits and must also be considered in terms of cumulative impact at the time. In the case of this application, it is a neat project of three small turbines by local people which will supply electricity to adjacent houses, the farm buildings and two holiday lets. The turbines are situated in a small bowl and although they will of course be very evident, I would agree with the planners that the impact on the landscape is acceptable. Considering turbines already approved at present, cumulative impact is only minor.”

Councillor Peter Argyle (Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside) said: “There is a growing body of public opinion against this. But on the other hand there is a very clear policy guideline from the Scottish Government that is putting pressure on us in exactly the opposite direction.

“There were applications for 445 wind turbines submitted in January 2011 to October 2011. The local authority that comes second to that is the Highlands with 87. It’s an enormous issue facing Aberdeenshire.”