Poor internet connection could prevent people taking part in discussions on a proposed wind farm with five turbines of almost 500ft high at Deskford.
Buckie councillor Sonya Warren called for equal access for all those who wanted to take part in a public consultation on the development at Lurg Hill around five miles south of Cullen.
She made the comment at a meeting of Moray Council’s planning and regulatory services committee today where members discussed the proposal of application notice for the wind farm.
Planning permission had already been granted following an appeal in February 2019 for five turbines at Lurg Hill but with a height up to 426ft.
The current notice put forward by applicant Alan Mathewson and submitted last month, includes turbines with tip height up to 488ft, slightly larger foundations than the previous plan and associated infrastructure.
Up to individuals to find a suitable internet connection
As part of the process a virtual public consultation is expected to be held later this year.
However, Mrs Warren raised concerns that those living close to the development do not all have reliable internet.
She said: “Can we check everybody in the area has suitable connectivity?
“I’m aware there are issues and some places round about have poor internet connection.”
Manager for development management Beverly Smith said it was unfortunate but according to regulations it was up to individuals to find a suitable connection to take part in the consultation, and it was not the responsibility of the council.
The Lurg Hill site extends to 137 hectares and comprises managed woodland, heathland and tracks, and although the area is judged to be unsuitable for such large turbines existing consent has set a principle.
Forres councillor Aaron McLean said: “I would have hoped the developer would take mitigation against that extra tip height so it has the same impact as as the original ones.
“But as they are in the same place it doesn’t seem they want to do that.”
All comments and observations made by councillors will be fed back to the developer.
Any planning application for the wind farm will be assessed against the Moray Local Development Plan 2020, Moray Onshore Wind Energy Non-Statutory Guidance 2020 and Moray Wind Energy Landscape Capacity Study 2017, which favour renewable developments.
The applicant will also have to demonstrate the increase in turbine height will not result in additional significant adverse landscape and visual impacts.
As the wind farm is expected to generate in excess of 20 megawatts it would be judged as a major development.
Consultation with local groups to come
Consultations will also be held with Cullen and Deskford Community Council, Fordyce, Sandend and District Community Council, Strathisla Community Council and Deskford and District Community Council.
A proposal of application notice for an energy management plant to stabilise the flow of electricity coming from renewable sources to the national grid near Keith also went before councillors.
There were no comments made on the proposal put forward by TINZ Programme 1 ProjectCo3 Limited for the electrical station including synchronous compensators at the existing Blackhillock substation, built to deal with power from the Beatrice offshore wind farm.
Blackhillock is the largest substation in the UK.