Controversy has been sparked over plans to build one of the tallest onshore wind farms in the UK, less than four miles from Banchory in Aberdeenshire.
Renewables developer RES is behind the 17-turbine development, each standing 820 feet tall and “theoretically visible” with viewpoints from 20 miles away in all directions; from Moray to Angus, according to planning documents.
The Hill of Fare wind farm has sparked outcry from campaigners opposing the development, while local residents are being urged to give their views in an upcoming consultation.
Its height will rival an extension to the Lethans Wind Farm planned for New Cumnock in East Ayrshire, billed as the “tallest on-land wind farm in the world”.
Hill of Fare will stand around 30ft short of those turbines, but still nearly twice the height of the Glasgow Tower, Scotland’s tallest building.
The site, being developed in partnership with Dunecht Estates, would have an expected generating capacity of around 122 megawatts if approved.
According to RES, it will produce enough electricity to power 90,000 homes and create a reduction in carbon emissions of approximately 142,000 tonnes each year.
Scotland Against Spin, a campaign that is calling for the reform of the Scottish Government’s wind energy policy has stood against the proposed wind farm.
Chairperson, Graham Lang, said: “We have had many contacts from local people concerned about the impact the proposed Hill of Fare wind farm will have on their visual amenity and the noise that will impact on the enjoyment of their home.
“The owner of the site lives far away and will not have to live with the presence of the turbines and as one of the wealthiest people in the UK has no need of the rental income. The developer of course is only interested in their bottom line.”
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie said: “As it stands, it’s an imposing prospect not just for Banchory but for much of the North East.
“Considering these would be seen from Moray, Aberdeen and the Mearns, many communities should get their say.
“An application like this must rest on the wishes of those in the area.”
It is expected that the project will be subject to a public local inquiry held by Aberdeenshire council where local residents can share their opinions on the matter.
RES said it intends to consult extensively with residents over the coming months,
A spokesperson said: “With the combined threat of rising energy bills and climate change it’s essential that we fast track our transition to renewables.
“Onshore wind can generate cheap, clean, home-grown electricity for consumers and now is the time to double down on the benefits the technology can deliver.
“In recent years turbine technology has continued to advance considerably, meaning that turbines are now more efficient, allowing them to generate a significantly greater amount of renewable electricity per turbine.
“Over the coming months, we will be talking extensively to the local community around our Hill of Fare Wind Farm proposal and, more importantly, we’ll also be listening to their feedback.
“We look forward to working with the community to identify their key priorities for local benefits and receiving feedback on the proposed design, which will then be used to inform the detailed plans.”
The company added that it has been “at the forefront” of wind energy development for more than 40 years, with 23 gigawatts of capacity worldwide.
RES has developed and/ or built 21 wind farms with 597 megawatts and has been developing, constructing and operating such projects from its Glasgow office since 1993.
The project will sit on land within the Dunecht Estate, one of the largest private estates in Aberdeenshire, which has been asked for comment.
Dunecht is owned by The Hon Charles Anthony Pearson, the younger son of the 3rd Viscount Cowdray.
The main part of the estate lies between Banchory and Westhill, encompassing the village of Dunecht, the Loch of Skene and the stately home of Dunecht House.
Pearson lives between his two homes in West Sussex and Aberdeenshire.