A planning application has been submitted for the controversial Hill of Fare onshore wind farm with the firm behind the project saying it could bring £150 million to Aberdeenshire.
The development has been met with opposition since it was first proposed last year and following a public consultation the firm behind Hill of Fare, RES, revised plans.
Those who oppose the project have said that the submission of the Hill of Fare planning application proves to “fire the starting gun on the desecration of Royal Deeside.”
A Section 36 planning application has been submitted by RES for a 16-turbine wind farm proposal at Hill of Fare.
The 16 turbines will be a mixture of heights, standing between 590 feet and 656ft tall and will be located 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 has said that the Hill of Fare wind farm is predicted to deliver £14 million of investment in Aberdeenshire during construction and a further £66m of economic activity linked to operations and maintenance work, during the wind farm’s operational life.
In addition to this, the firm says that around £50m could be paid in business rates to Aberdeenshire Council off the back of this development, alongside a proposed community benefit package of over £26m.
The planning submission includes a proposed cultural heritage walking trail involving designated pathways and interpretation boards to link key heritage assets in the local area.
RES is also working with landowners, Dunecht Estates, to “explore other potential opportunities” to support access and recreation across the site.
These plans include the potential renovation of an old shooting lodge as a visitor information centre and place of shelter and the creation of car-parking facilities.
Plans ‘fire the starting gun on the desecration of Royal Deeside’
Despite this, local conservative MSP Alexander Burnett, said: “It’s extremely disappointing that Dunecht Estates and RES have ignored the overwhelming community opposition to their proposed Hill of Fare windfarm by submitting a planning application to the Energy Consents Unit.
“These plans, which fire the starting gun on the desecration of Royal Deeside, have already been unanimously rejected by the six neighbouring community councils and received support from just 11% of the community.
“Choosing to submit the application to the ECU now means all submissions have to be lodged with them by January 12.”
Mr Burnett said that the decision to submit planning applications now is a “disgraceful and cynical tactic” to limit objections from the local community.
Gavin Shirley, development project manager at RES, commented: “This package would be agreed with the surrounding communities and could include RES’ unique Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS), which offers an annual discount to the electricity bills of those properties closest to the wind farm, something that has received strong interest from the community.”
Previous opposition to Hill of Fare
Mr Burnett is not the only person to oppose the “desecration of Royal Deeside”, fellow politicians and the National Trust for Scotland, have voiced their concerns in the past.
A National Trust for Scotland spokesperson previously told Energy Voice: “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.”
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, RES said that it received “lots of great feedback” that is helping inform the future of the project.