An Aberdeen farmer claims he has been “left in the dark” over plans to create a multi-million pound Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) on the site of one of Scotland’s largest rare and endangered animal farms.
Graham Lennox, who has held the tenancy of Doonie’s Farm since 2010, said he has “heard nothing” from planners and local authorities after more than a year of discussions about building a “major base for clean energy” on the 134 acre site and nearby St Fittick’s Park.
He added that the conservation site, which houses 23 rare breeds of pig, cattle, sheep, horses and chickens, has been left “in limbo” about its future.
It comes after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £27 million in UK Government funding for the ETZ project on Monday night.
Development body Opportunity North East (One), backed by oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, unveiled its plans for the ETZ in January 2020.
Mr Lennox said: “This is our home and we still have another four years left on our lease here.
“No one has, as yet, come to us to discuss the project with us, so as a business we’re in limbo.
“We don’t know whether to invest or whether to just run our lease down – all I’ve heard is what I’ve seen in the media.
“It’s been a year since the ETZ became public knowledge and we have no idea about what the local plan will be – we’ve heard nothing at all about how it might affect us.
Torry campaign group, Friends of St Fittick’s Park, reacted to news of the £27m funding boost by releasing the results of a recent consultation on the proposed plans – which received nearly 199 objections.
Torry resident and environmental scientist David Knight said the results show there was a “lot of feeling in the community” around protecting both areas.
He added: “It frustrates me that we are going to lose a wetland area, a wooded area and quite a large chunk of a community park – it’s ridiculous.
“I’m all for there being a transition from oil and gas to clean energy, however if we build on a new area to make that happen then all will be left is a lot of brownfield site lying empty and unused.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said “at this stage” the ETZ aims to “cluster energy transition activity in the vicinity of Aberdeen Harbour South expansion, including Tullos and East Altens”.
She said: “Within the Zone, there are a number of sites included within the council’s proposed Local Development Plan for energy transition use.
“This plan was subject of a city-wide 15-week consultation late last year, the results of which will be reported to council before the plan is subject to examination in public by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division at the Scottish Government.”
A spokesman for One added: “We recognise there are, understandably, questions from the local community about the project. Certain areas within the proposed ETZ are subject to Aberdeen City Council’s Local Development Plan due to be considered later this year and the Council has been clear that any subsequent planning application will include statutory consultation and community engagement at the appropriate time.
“We cannot pre-judge this process but are clear that, crucial to the project’s success, is ensuring we partner with the local community through all phases of its development.
“We are committed to a programme of regular dialogue and. exploring the development of community supported projects that would have the aim of creating enhanced opportunities and local amenities that provide long term benefit to those living and working in the area.”