Site visit to determine visual impact of Mearns turbine

COUNCILLORS have decided to carry out a site visit before determining the planning decision on a wind turbine application which received sixty letters of representation.

The application for full planning permission for erection of one wind turbine of 81 metres in height on land to the North East of Brigton Farm, Laurencekirk, was discussed by members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee last week.

It was explained to councillors on the committee that the wind turbine was being applied for in order to be connected to the national grid to help sustain the applicant’s business.

They were also told that of the representations, 52 were in support of the proposal; for reasons including that the turbine would help address climate change, would reduce reliance on foreign resources of fuel/power and help secure Britain’s energy security.

Eight representations were against the proposal. This included an objection from Mearns Community Council.

The main reason for the objections was the visual impact on the landscape that the turbine would cause. Other reasons for objecting to the application included noise concerns, the impact on tourism and heritage of the area, preservation of the landscape, the fact that if approved the whole area of the Mearns will be open for turbine development and health concerns within 10km of turbines.

It was explained to the committee that the single turbine is very close to the proposed site of two smaller turbines, however this application could not be taken into account as it is yet to go through planning. The recommendation on the application was for a delegated grant.

One objector attended the meeting to discuss his concerns. Mr David Johnston, an artist who paints landscapes in the Mearns, urged members of the committee to refuse the application.

He said: “This is a case of the interest of local people being ignored by the Council to appease national energy aims, we need to remember that local democracy is an important part of planning.”

He also described how the language used in the report about the application shows that planners found it “difficult to find a reason to recommend” the plans. Mr Johnston argued the case passionately for refusing the turbine.

The applicant, Mr McWilliam, also made his case to the committee explaining his need for further income to allow his business to continue growing. He also defended the positioning of the wind turbine on his land, after it was pointed out that it was far away from any of the farm houses.

Mr McWilliam explained that the proposed site was the best for creating wind power and was next to a site which allows easy access to the national grid.

Following the presentations the members of the committee then discussed the application.

Provost Bill Howatson suggested a site visit to allow the committee to see where the turbine would be placed.

Councillor Mike Sullivan however had concerns about this. He said: “It will be extremely difficult to envisage something which is 81 metres high without some point of reference.

“This is going to save an awful lot of C02 emissions. This is a good project and I think it is not going to prove much of an intrusion.”

Councillor Sullivan then proposed that the committee agree to the recommendation for delegated grant, this was seconded by Councillor Graeme Clark. However this did not get the support needed to be approved Members agreed by a vote of 4 to 7 to go with Provost Howatson’s motion, which was to carry out a site visit.