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New planning application for land owned by Turriff councillor – five years after ‘controversial’ application to build a wind turbine on the site was rejected

Aberdeenshire councillor Sandy Duncan.
Aberdeenshire councillor Sandy Duncan.

Fresh plans have been submitted to build a house on land owned by a councillor whose controversial application for a wind turbine on the site was previously rejected.

Councillor Sandy Duncan lodged proposals to build a 150ft turbine at his Beechwood property at Forglen five years ago.

However, locals objected to the project and the application was later quashed by the Court of Session.

It was narrowly approved by the Banff and Buchan committee but later revoked. He also submitted plans for a house but pulled the plans before a decision could be made.

Now it has emerged that his son Colin Duncan, has applied for permission to build a house on the site near Burnend Cottage at Forglen.

One objection has already been received from the Marnoch and Deveron Valley Protection Group protesting against the number of trees to be felled and the proposals for the new build not fitting in with the character of the land.

It also states that the application is not in line with council development plans because it would not be for agricultural residency or for retirement.

A letter submitted to the planning department raised concerns that it’s the second application to build on the same land.

The letter concludes by “leaving it to planning officials to assess the merits of the present application” and apply “stringent conditions” regarding the preservation of the rural area if permission is granted.

The Forestry Commission’s response to the plans stated the area is of “significant biodiversity value” and that there was a tree felling investigation which resulted in the replanting of trees in the woodland last year.

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It concludes: “The Scottish Government’s policy on the Control of Woodland Removal applies” which means that trees can only be removed if it’s deemed appropriate.

Jim Bayne, secretary of Alvah and Forglen Community Council, said: “We’ve made no formal objection as it’s a technical application but we fully support the Forestry Commission response to the planning application and hope the Control of the Woodland Removal is rigorously applied.”

The agent, Arcus Designs Ltd, acting on behalf of the current applicant, Mr Duncan, said all of the information to be considered was contained within the documents submitted to Aberdeenshire Council.

Councillors Glen Reynolds and John Cox opted to refer the application onto the area committee for consideration.

Neither councillor Sandy Duncan could not be reached for comment.

History of the Forglen site

Turriff councillor Sandy Duncan originally applied for the planning permission for a 150 foot wind turbine to be erected on the land in 2013.

The property, known as Beechwood, then became the focus of a long process.

It was eventually narrowly approved by the Banff and Buchan committee but it emerged afterwards that he had sent e-mails from his work account to members of the committee before the vote seeking their support.

He was accused of “blatant cronyism” and the planning permission was revoked.

Mr Duncan referred himself to the Standards Commission.

The under-fire councillor had also applied for planning permission for a house on the land at Burnend Cottage.

He had been expected to battle for the permission but at the last moment before the Banff and Buchan area committee in November 2016, he withdrew the plans.

Mr Duncan has since left the SNP and became an independent councillor.

Last year the Standards Commissioner found Mr Duncan had been using his position to seek preferential treatment and he was suspended from certain committees for six months.

Neither the councillor or his son could be reached for comment.

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