Following the public meeting at Millbank Hall on 18 April, please see the link at the top of this page. The questions/issues are numbered 1-20 with Aberdeenshire Council’s response in bold ink. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any further queries.
I was glad to see last night that local democracy is alive and kicking in Skene.
The Garioch Area Committee met in the Council Chambers to determine a planning application for a proposal which represented a Development Plan Departure but was subject to a substantial body of support and an outstanding objection from the Community Council.
Planning permission was sought for the erection at South Fornet of an Enercon E70 2.3 MW wind turbine with a total height to tip of 100 metres.
The Committee heard passionate, articulate representations from both the applicant and a number of objectors. Material issues raised by objectors included cumulative impact, visual and landscape impact, impact on Loch of Skene and impact on built and natural heritage. The applicant argued that he was not concerned about cumulative impact, did not feel that the view would be adversely impacted and felt that the application met all the local plan criteria.
The report in front of the Committee stated that the MOD had objected to the application. The applicant and his agent intimated that an email had been received from the MOD lifting that objection. The planner confirmed that no notification of that objection being lifted had been received by Aberdeenshire Council.
Echt & Skene Community Council urged the Committee to review the Environmental Report prepared by the applicant’s agent, critically. When the Committee questioned the report’s referral to “the community meeting for the consented South Fornet development” where “it was felt that the vast majority of the local population is either indifferent or openly supportive of the project”, the agent conceded that this statement was included in the report in error and in fact no consultation meeting had taken place. I questioned why the report stated that local contractors will be able to bid on over £300,000 of construction contracts associated with the project and in four short paragraphs further on in the report, this figure had changed to £400,000. The agent again conceded that this was an error and may have been due to two people writing the report.
I also questioned the criteria for the Annual Community Plan as details here were lacking. Residents wanted to know how this fund would be controlled and monitored, to whom they would be paid and what criteria defines “deserving local causes”. It seems that this aspect had not been fully explored or outlined by the applicant.
The Visual Assessment detailed in the Environmental Report stated “The immediate surroundings show a gently rolling, open landscape. Again the view is pleasant but not distinctive or valued nationally”. Going by the depth of local feeling and the time and effort expended by the residents in expressing their views on the detrimental effect on their surroundings, it was crystal clear that the view was very much valued locally.
Most of the objections were reasoned, well-researched arguments; from the representations of Sabrina and Nicole (both aged 11) to the 14 and 24-page letters from other local residents, not one person said they were against wind turbines.
I would wholeheartedly agree with the letters of support that wind turbines have their place.
South Fornet is not one of them.
The Committee agreed unanimously with the planners’ recommendation and refused planning permission.