Turbines at Culsalmond and Keithhall given the green light

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TWO applications for the erection of wind turbines in Culsalmond and Keithhall were recommended for approval by members of the Garioch Area Committee on Tuesday (February 5), despite having been recommended for refusal by the Council’s Planning and Environmental Services.

Both applications were subject to site visits by committee members prior to the meeting. Of the two applications, the one by Mr Callum Burnett of Williamstone House, Culsalmond for three 100m turbines at Hill of Tillymorgan, will be referred for a final decision to the Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee.

The turbines from the Hill of Tillymorgan application will be one-sixth owned by The Friends of Insch Hospital and will contribute to the groups funds, although it was stressed at the meeting that this was not a material planning consideration, and should not affect any decision made, and Councillors Bryan Stuart, Martin Kitts-Hayes and Sheena Lonchay, who all have connections with the Insch Hospital took no part in the discussion.

The application had generated 12 letters of representation opposed to the application and 13 in support and the committee heard from both those in favour and opposed prior to discussion.

West Garioch Councillor Allison Grant said that she had considered the application in “great detail” and said that although the turbines proposed were 100m in height she considered them a better fit for the location. She said that she felt they had been “sensitively located” within the site and that this made the best use of a site that had already received permission for smaller turbines in the past. She was also happy with the way that the applicant had visited everyone in sites immediate vicinity and said she hadn’t received any objections personally to the application.

Fellow East Garioch Councillor Patricia Oddie said that it had been hard to keep emotions separate from the decision process, but thought they would have a visual impact on the amenity of nearby housing and felt the justification for refusal was appropriate.

Inverurie and District Councillor Hamish Vernal was happy that the application fitted noise guidelines and thought that the siting would mean that the visual impact would be less.

East Garioch Councillor Martin Ford said that he had been sceptical at first but he had changed his mind after visiting the site, and thought the landscape could accommodate the turbines. He did stress that appropriate conditions had to be imposed. The committee voted by eight to two to recommend approval.

The second application by Mr Lesley Davidson of Newmill Farm, Keithhall for two 20.9m turbines at Newmill Farm had generated six letters of representation expressing concerns that included the exposed location, the visual impact, noise impact and impact on tourism.

The application had been recommended for refusal due to the “cumulative impact” that they and the pending applications for additional turbines would have on the area.

The committee agreed that the issue of “cumulative impact” was a difficult one, but one that as Councillor Kitts-Hayes commented “was going to have to be faced sooner or later”.

The committee vote by nine to four to recommend the application for approval.