Proposals for a £12m renewable energy plant in the north-east have been given the go-ahead.
The Buchan Biogas scheme will create an anaerobic digestion plant at Downiehills Farm, near Peterhead, to harness natural gas from agricultural waste.
The whole project is a carbon neutral source of energy – understood to be the first of its kind in the UK – and is being seen as a major boost to the local agricultural sector.
Farmers could sell crops to the plant as fuel and also take advantage of the organic fertiliser produced by the process.
Yesterday, the proposals went before the Buchan Area Committee and were passed by majority.
Marc Mcelhinney, of Buchan Biogas Ltd, told the committee: “I’d like to emphasise a few points with regards to our development – we’d be creating five permanent jobs and up to a further 30 during construction.
“We’d be offering local farmers long-term contracts with a fixed pricing structure.
“Due to poor crop prices this summer, we’ve been inundated with calls from farmers asking when the plant will be operational.
“Biogas is widely recognised as the most sustainable and eco-friendly renewable energy court. It fits well with Aberdeenshire Council’s Energetica Corridor developments.”
Mr Mcelhinney added the plant could create enough energy to fuel 3,000 homes.
Councillor Norman Smith, (Central Buchan, Independent), said: “I welcome this development and I think it’s going to be a huge addition to the area.
“I think the benefits outweigh the fears that people have. We need to encourage people in this area to employ people.”
However, the plans were not met with universal approval.
Councillor Alan Gardiner (Peterhead North and Rattray, Independent), said: “I do want to put on record that as a community we are very encouraging to new business and job creation.
“However a balance has to be taken. The location of the site is completely wrong as it is too close to local communities.
“It’s a create proposal but its in the wrong location altogether.”
Councillor Gardiner, whose amendment to reject the plans was supported by fellow Independent councillor Tom Malone, suggested the developer come back with a new site.
Councillor Gardiner’s amendment found no further support and council officers will agree the final conditions.