The main option for generating renewable energy in the Kincardine and Mearns area is through wind power.
This was the message delivered to Stonehaven and District Community Council at their meeting this week.
James Williamson, Aberdeenshire Council Sustainable Development Officer (Climate Change) gave a presentation at the meeting on Tuesday night and explained to those in attendance the importance of developing renewable energy and the options for community ownership of developments.
Mr Williamson explained to the Community Council about the different targets set for renewable energy, with the Scottish Government looking to have at least 30% of all energy renewable by 2020. This is higher than the UK Government who are looking to have 20% by 2020.
Aberdeenshire Council are hoping to have Aberdeenshire carbon neutral as a region by 2030. He explained that in terms of strategy one of the main challenges in achieving this will come from transport in the area.
He then explained that due to wind speeds, Scotland is a prime location for developing wind power and that currently, in a table of local authorities Aberdeenshire Council is ninth for wind power. He said; “You may think we have lots, but we are fairly far down the table.” The Highlands are currently top of the table.
He then explained how communities can benefit from wind power. He said that although it is not mandatory, many developers provide a community fund from the money they generate through a turbine development. He used Tullo, near Laurencekirk as an example as they put £17,000 a year into a local trust.
Community Councillors were sceptical of this. One said: “£17,000 a year to ruin that view?” Another described the money as “bribery”.
Mr Williamson explained that with prices going up for fossil fuels and strict Scottish Government targets an alternative has to be found and wind is the most viable. One Community Councillor said: “We can see the community going against these things, they say look at my view now, and look at the view I will have (if a turbine is built) and what would it do for me?”
Mr Wiliamson then said: “Do we want to rely on fossil fuels? Prices will go up and up and up. I would say in five to ten years time, renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels.”
He challenged the Community Council and said: “If you come up with a better solution, let me know.” Community Councillors then asked about hydro options in the area, including wave power however Mr Williamson explained that on the East Coast of Scotland there is not the right conditions and the area is too flat for any viable hydro schemes.
Mr Williamson finished by presenting the options of Communities owning a Turbine in a wind farm or buying a Turbine themselves both of which result in the Community benefiting financially from wind developments.