THE north-east’s efforts to move from oil capital to energy capital are being hampered by the Ministry of Defence’s “effective moratorium” on wind turbines, it was claimed last night.
Controversial plans for a green energy scheme near Ellon are among those to fall foul of the MoD.
Military chiefs are increasingly raising objections to wind turbines amid concerns they would interfere with radar equipment at RAF Buchan.
So far it has opposed more than 30 applications across Aberdeenshire – including the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre’s plans for an 11-turbine scheme at Aberdeen Bay, and 12 turbines at Mormond Hill, near Strichen.
The MoD’s property arm, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), has previously argued that a cluster of masts could make radars pick up false aircraft readings, putting national security at risk.
Now four farmers, each hoping to build a 282ft mast on their land, have spoken out against the MoD’s position and have appealed to the Scottish Government to give their projects the go-ahead.
The group, known as Yowlie Energy Ltd, wants to build the turbines on their farms at Douglas-head, Milton of Ardlethen, Knockothie at Upper Ard-lethen and Little Ythsie.
Local councillors threw out the plans earlier this year amid concerns at the impact the turbines would have on the nearby C-listed Prop of Ythsie, near Tarves, and the MoD’s objection.
In their appeal statement, prepared by agents Green Cat Renewables, the group suggests the impact on the Prop of Ythsie would not be significant as it is partially screened by trees. It adds: “The appellant is not challenging the objection but is concerned that orderly planning of both wind turbines and any upgrade of RAF Buchan is not served by the current effective moratorium on development over a large swathe of Aberdeenshire.
“The issue is halting wind developments over a large portion of Aberdeenshire.
“A solution to the issues at RAF Buchan is being sought and, in the interest of orderly planning, the appellant is seeking an approval subject to the satisfactory resolution.”
The group lodged the plans in January but they were thrown out in April. The appeal is pending.
Last night Allan Dent, who has been at Douglashead Farm since 1991, said: “Farm diversification is even more important in these difficult economic times and these turbines would provide a regular income to us all.
“We don’t believe the impact on the setting of the Prop is significant.
“The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre is also caught up in the RAF Buchan issue. Unless this is resolved, Aberdeen’s move from oil capital to energy capital will be at risk.
“We are therefore asking for a conditional approval so we can commit resources to being part of the solution.”
A spokeswoman for the MoD said: “Wind turbines can have detrimental affects on MoD operations and assets. The MoD ensures that any developments, both on and beyond the defence estate, do not adversely affect military operations and assets. It is crucial that MoD capabilities, onshore and offshore, including military aviation, weapons and firing ranges, maritime navigational interests and other operational installations, are protected to ensure that the MoD can maintain and develop the capabilities it requires.”