A contentious wind turbine project which split a north-east community was on the brink of collapse last night after councillors threw out a landowner’s proposals.
Banffshire farmer James Gammie had applied to build three turbines on neighbouring plots of land, claiming they would give a much-needed economic boost to the local community.
But despite receiving more than 500 letters and e-mails of support for Mr Gammie’s plans, members of the Banff and Buchan Area Committee ruled out the construction of two turbines amid heated exchanges with residents.
A decision on the third turbine was deferred and councillors will now visit the site to the south-west of Banff on a fact-finding mission.
Alongside letters of support, Aberdeenshire Council planning chiefs also received more than 225 objections from residents who argued there are already too many turbines in the Banffshire countryside.
Concerns were also raised about noise pollution, house prices, tourism and shadow flicker.
In a report to the committee, planning officers called for refusal of Mr Gammie’s turbine plans.
Yesterday Mr Gammie told the committee that: “The people who know the area best are those who are in a three-mile radius, and in particular those in a one-mile radius and we have their overwhelming support.
“This community project will also contribute considerably to climate change objectives.”
But the applicant’s appeal to the councillors was quickly rebutted by local objectors.
One, Mrs Edna Gardner, said: “Two of those turbines will face the front of my property less than 600 yards away.
“With carbuncles like these on the horizon, what tourist would visit our area?”
Neighbouring resident Jane Patterson added: “The 500 letters of support put to the council are pro forma letters put out by Mr Gammie himself.
“Public consultation should be carried out by a third party – no pressure should be put on people.”
An Aberdeenshire Council legal officer stressed to the elected representatives that pro forma or blanket letters of support of objections are acceptable but that councilors must weigh their significance.
Mr Gammie did not deny circulating blanket letters for residents to sign.
Conservative councillor for Banff and District Michael Roy pushed to accept the recommendation to throw out the plans, stating: “These turbines are contrary to Scottish planning policy and Aberdeenshire planning policy and should be rejected.”
Councillors will visit the third turbine later this year.