Turbine “cronyism” saga to finally end with vote at public meeting

Aberdeenshire councillor Sandy Duncan

A final decision on proposals to build a wind turbine at the heart of a political “cronyism” row is expected this week.

Turriff councillor Sandy Duncan first lodged proposals to build the 150ft structure on his land at Beechwood near Forglen three years ago and has already had planning permission withdrawn twice.

The project was stalled by a legal challenge at the Court of Session last year, prior to Mr Duncan being accused of “cronyism” because he called on fellow councillors to back his plans.

It emerged the SNP member had used his official email account to contact fellow Nationalists on the Banff and Buchan area committee which granted planning permission. Independent members of the committee were also contacted.

Mr Duncan denied any wrongdoing and has referred himself to the Standards Commission.

As a result of the row, planning permission was once again rescinded and a final decision on the matter was passed to the region’s infrastructure committee.

They will meet in Turriff on Friday and are expected to reject the scheme once and for all.

In a report to the infrastructure committee, council planner Jim Martin recommended Mr Duncan’s application should be scrapped because it would have an “adverse impact” on the local landscape.

Mr Martin said: “The proposal is considered to be inappropriate in this location due to its size and position as it is likely to impact upon the character and appearance of the Deveron and Upper Ythan Valleys landscape character area.

“The recommendation must therefore be for refusal.”

A total of 33 representations were made to planners when the application was first submitted, with 16 supporting the turbine and 17 objecting to it.

Supporters welcomed the “green energy” boost to the area. However the Alvah and Forglen community council strongly objected to Mr Duncan’s project.

Secretary James Bayne said: “The community council unanimously agreed the turbine would have an adverse effect on the Alvah and Forglen community, particularly those who were living in close proximity to the proposed site and those living in and around the Deveron Valley.”