Councillors give “sensitive” wind turbine the green light

A WIND turbine at land south west of Smiddyhill Farm, Garvock, was given full planning permission this week by members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee.

The applicant, local farmer John Alexander, intends to build a 40.5m metre turbine to provide power for his farm. The turbine will be built on the site of a disused radio antenna, which will be removed.

Seventeen letters of representation were received about the applications, and concerns raised included the possible cumilative effect that a new turbine would have with respect to seven turbines at nearby Tullo.

Addressing the committee on Tuesday, objector Trisha Pirie said: “I believe that this turbine will principally benefit the applicant while impacting on the community at large.

“I think having any development near the Johnston Tower would be wrong. It is a significant part of our landscape.”

A previous application in the area for a six turbine windfarm had been refused by the committee because of the impact it would have on the surrounding countryside, however, the applicant insisted that this one was on a completely different scale, with only one 40.5m domestic use turbine required as opposed to six 100m commercial turbines.

A report put before councillors stated: “Scottish Planning Policy (SSP) sets a target for 50% of Scotland’s electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020. SSP states planning authorities should support windfarm developments of all scales but the design and location of such development should be carefully considered to ensure that the landscape and visual impact is minimised.”

Speaking at the meeting, the applicant’s wife said: As a farming family we have been looking into a renewable energy project for some time.

“This turbine would be purely for domestic use and we have no intention of applying for any more.”

Mrs Alexander added that the energy provided for the turbine would provide them with electricity for their farm and their home, and could be used in the future for a new intiative which could see tractors powered by renewable energy sources.

Provost Bill Howatson said that given the “sensitivity” of the site, a site visit would be “beneficial”. He was seconded by Mearns Councillor George Carr, and was also backed by Mearns Councillor Tom Fleming.

But Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Mike Sullivan said he could see no advantage to going on a site visit, and moved to grant permission. He was seconded by Mearns Councillor Jean Dick.

Cllr Sullivan said: “The turbine will be in isolation. It is only 40.5m tall, and it is slim. It fulfils a useful function and you will hardly be able to see it from many parts of Laurencekirk.

“Times are changing and new tractors will be powered by hydrogen. The turbine presents very little optical intrusion and it is a very good project.

“We need to flag up the fact that Aberdeenshire is in favour of renewable enrgy. We are not looking at 100m masts, we are looking at one 40.5m mast.”

Councillors voted in favour of the application by seven votes to five, defeating the motion for a site visit.