The mother of a young girl who had double brain surgery just 11 months ago fears she will suffer if a controversial windfarm project goes ahead.
Developers of the Moray West Offshore Windfarm are considering installing landing cables to connect the 90 turbines to the National Grid at Sandend Bay.
Furious locals have already formed a campaign, called Save our Sandend, and say the cables should not cut through the sands of the beach, dubbed a “jewel in the crown” of surfing.
They are also concerned that the constant drilling – with they fear could be 24/7 – will impact on their businesses and day-to-day life.
The firm behind the scheme, Moray Offshore Renewable Power, insist no final decision on the location for the onshore base has been made yet, and that their consultation with locals will continue.
But worried mum Sarah Dawson, who lives near the beach, is concerned about the impact the project could have on her epileptic daughter.
Seven-year-old Annabel also has learning difficulties, and noise, stress and a lack of sleep can trigger her seizures. She underwent double brain surgery just under a year ago and her mother is worried that potential building work nearby will make her condition worse.
Mrs Dawson said: “Annabel has had really bad epilepsy ever since she was born and she is now seven.
“She had double brain surgery in March last year and it helped settle things down so much, but any kind of stress can trigger things.
“With this building work that is going to be happening right behind my door I worry that the stress and the noise will make things worse again.
“She has been in hospital nearly every year and I just now worry that the noise will mean she doesn’t get any sleep, which in turn
is going to trigger seizures.”
Mrs Dawson said it is also difficult to explain to her daughter what might be going on.
She said: “Annabel has got learning difficulties so she can’t talk and she is very limited when it comes to understanding things.”
Mrs Dawson’s mother, Jane Winfield, runs Sandend Caravan Park and was told at a public meeting last week that the construction work on the cable would run 24 hours a day.
She is concerned her business and others could be hit by any possible construction work.
Mrs Winfield said: “Tourism is all Aberdeenshire has got.
“Once you hit tourism here it would hit a lot of businesses.
“Ice cream shops, the fish processor in the village and other local shops will be hit as well because there won’t be anybody coming. They only come for the beach. The villagers are all together. They don’t want it here.”
A spokesman for Moray Offshore Renewables said he was unable to address Mrs Dawson’s concerns directly, but said no
decision on a final location for the cables had been made.
He said: “We are not at the stage of selecting where the works are going to take place. We are involved in a consultation at the moment.”
Moray Offshore Renewables will hold another exhibition of their plans in Portsoy on March 1 and the firm has submitted its proposals to Aberdeenshire and Moray councils.
Last week Moray Offshore Renewables managing director Dan Finch insisted they were not “fixed” on Sandend, but explained it seemed a sensible option over Cullen.
He said: “Sandend looks like the midpoint between A and B – it looks like the most obvious.
“We recognise it only looks like we’re only concentrating on Sandend. We have not fixed on the beach.”