The Aberdeenshire West MSP, Alexander Burnett, has contacted Jackie Bird, raising his concerns regarding the giant Hill of Fare wind farm set for Royal Deeside.
Mr Burnett wrote to Ms Bird, president of the National Trust for Scotland, asking whether the organisation will submit any concerns over the plans.
His complaints follow a survey carried out by the six community councils surrounding the hill that found 75% of respondents object to the project.
The survey gathered 863 responses and found only 11% were in favour of the renewable energy project while the remaining 14% were either “Undecided” or “Neutral.”
Residence in the Crathes Drumoak Durris community council area objected the most with 81% of respondents standing against the plans.
To this, a National Trust for Scotland spokesperson said: “We have objected to the current proposals at the pre-application stage due to our concerns over how landscape impact, the impact on peat soils, and the environmental impacts of concrete have been handled. We will consider the full application, should this come forward.
“The National Trust for Scotland supports renewable energy as an alternative to fossil fuel technologies, but their installation should not damage areas designated for their landscape quality, the historic environment, biodiversity or peatland, and we encourage developers to engage fully with local communities.
“The Trust’s own research on the care of Scotland’s landscapes identified electricity transmission and wind turbines as two of the leading pressures on our landscape currently.
“We are working with partners to raise these concerns with the government and to ensure that heritage significance is properly considered when assessing any planning application.
“Major renewable energy developments should be routed away from our most vulnerable landscapes, including National Parks and National Scenic Areas, and also cultural heritage sites, such as battlefields or Scheduled Monuments.
“In view of the expected expansion of renewable energy, we are calling for national locational guidance to ensure that developments are appropriately sited, and Scotland’s most valued landscapes protected.”
Change of plans
Wind developer RES looks to build a mix of 16 turbines standing between 590 feet and 656ft tall less than four miles from Banchory.
Original plans for the development would have seen 17 turbines, the highest of which would stand at some 820ft coming to Royal Deeside, however, following a public consultation RES changed its plans for towering turbines.
Under previous plans from developer RES, these would have been “theoretically visible” with viewpoints from 20 miles away in all directions, from Moray to Angus, according to planning documents.
RES told Energy Voice: “We’re now finalising our proposals with the expectation that we will submit a planning application in the coming weeks, at which point statutory consultees and all members of the public will have a chance to review and comment on the final design.
“The proposed site, which lies outwith any nationally designated landscape areas, presents a prime location to utilise cheap, clean renewable energy for the benefit of consumers, the economy and the environment.”
The National Trust for Scotland is set to hold its Annual General Meeting at Aberdeen’s P&J Live on Friday and Alexander Burnett hopes that the findings of the Community Councils’ survey will be discussed after a question was tabled on the issue.
Mr Burnett wrote: “Amongst the most pressing concerns from the communities is the vast visual impact these turbines will have on the area, the impact on the local water supplies, noise, the impact on wildlife and the risk that an approval would set a precedent for turbines to be built right down the River Dee Valley.
“Of particular concern to your organisation may be that the turbines will be built on the site of the Battle Corrichie and the visual impact this proposal will have on the Aberdeenshire landscape and tourist attractions in Aberdeenshire.
“These turbines will be seen from the Cairngorms National Park. They will also be visible from both the Deeside and Lochnagar National Scenic Areas as well as from over 160 scheduled monuments and Grade A listed buildings, including National Trust for Scotland sites and dozens of designated Nature Scot sites, all of which are listed below.
“Given the substantial impact that these turbines will have across Aberdeenshire, I would be grateful if you could confirm whether National Trust For Scotland will be making a submission to the Energy Consents Unit when the formal application is submitted by RES.”
‘Most supported the aims behind renewables’
Previously, locals and the MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Andrew Bowie, have struck out against the renewables project being developed in partnership with Dunecht Estates.
When RES announced its revised plans for the Aberdeenshire green energy project, Mr Bowie said: “Most supported the aims behind renewables but were frankly spooked by the size and scope of this wind farm.”
Following the public consultation last year, the firm behind the proposed wind farm has said that it received “lots of great feedback” that is helping inform the future of the project.
Following the concerns raised by local community councils and Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett, RES was asked for comment.