Third turbine bid

A former Deeside MP has submitted controversial plans for three wind turbines near Alford - for the third time.

Nicol Stephen, now Lord Stephen, who set up green energy firm Renewable Energy Ventures after his retirement as a member of the Scottish Parliament last year, wants to build the 325ft masts at Blackhills Farm, Cushnie.

Planning officers have twice sent the applications back to the former deputy first minister because of “factual inaccuracies” in the environmental statements.

His firm was forced to withdraw both applications but has now resubmitted the proposals.

Linda van Weereld, chairwoman of Stop Turbines in Cushnie (STiC), feels mistakes in the first two proposals have not been dealt with properly.

She said: “On first read of the third application, it appears that the inaccuracies and misleading information contained in the first two have been covered up by padding and flannel. It is obvious that the application as a whole does not comply with the guidelines, standards and objectives set down by the Aberdeenshire Council.

“We believe this is a clear attempt by Lord Stephen to continue to undermine the planning process with a view to having his application rejected so he can take his case to the Scottish Executive.

“If this was a deliberate attempt to wear down the objectors then they are very much mistaken. It has only strengthened the resolve of STiC.”

Local resident, Douglas Wyper, whose family owned and farmed Blackhills for 25 years, said that although a third application was not unexpected, he was appalled at Lord Stephen continuing with his plan to build the turbines in the valley behind Blackhills.

“It is simply ludicrous, as all three turbines will be sheltered from the prevailing winds,” he said.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrat peer’s agent, Green Cat Renewables, said: “Green Cat is progressing this project in the normal way.

“This application complies with the standards and guidelines set out both by Aberdeenshire Council and government and will be subjected to a thorough examination by the council’s internal consultees and independent statutory consultees such as SEPA, SNH and Historic Scotland, before the council determines the application.

“While we accept the rights of the vocal minority who oppose onshore wind projects, there is clearly strong government support for more renewable energy projects.”