New wind farm rules to give ‘certainty’ about future developments for Moray residents

Residents were asked about their views about possible wind farm sites at the public exhibition at New Elgin Hall.

A leading Moray Council planner believes new windfarm rules will provide “certainty” about future developments.

Maps went on display at a public exhibition yesterday showing parts of the region which have been assessed as suitable for hosting turbines.

Four drawings were prepared to show where developments of different heights were likely to be allowed.

Gary Templeton, principal planner for the council’s development plan, said there was “limited scope” for near-500ft tall turbines in the region, which would be predominantly confined to the Dallas and Knockando moor.

He said: “We’re trying to provide certainty to developers and communities on where we think are the most appropriate wind farm locations.

“If we stuck to national guidance then there wouldn’t be any separation between 25-metre (82ft) or 150-metre (492ft) turbines.

“So we’ve gone further and drawn up different maps for different scales. It’s all about finding the balance for Moray and safeguarding the natural environment.”

Maps on display at New Elgin Hall yesterday showed the coastal region deemed most suitable for smaller developments.

The drawings are being used as part of a consultation.

The results of the surveys will be reported to the council in January before being passed to the Scottish Government for approval.

Mr Templeton added: “Just because an application is submitted in an area we’ve deemed suitable doesn’t mean we’re giving it the green light.

“There’s still a lot of criteria to fulfil, like the landscape and distance from settlements.”

Mr Templeton revealed the number of applications received by council planners for turbines between 180ft and 280ft had dropped significantly in the last two years because changes in electricity prices had made them less profitable.

Meanwhile, interest in large developments has largely remained confined to expanding existing sites.

Many people in the region have major concerns about turbines but views at the consultation event yesterday were less polarised.

New Elgin resident Margaret Smart said: “There are far worse things, in my view. I would have a big problem if they started fracking here. I wouldn’t complain if there was a turbine in my back garden.”

The deadline for submissions to the consultation is 5pm on Monday, November 14.