No “major” status for turbine plans

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the POTENTIALLY “huge” impact on the town of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) proposed wind turbines merits a major planning status, a local councillor has said.

Councillor Sandy West has asked Angus Council chief executive Richard Stiff if there is any scope to appeal Scottish Government planning guidelines for the application, which has yet to be lodged, to be reclassified from “local”.

Under the government’s current guidelines only developments generating more than 20 megawatts are classed as major. The GSK turbines, each 426 feet high, would generate six megawatts, meaning the application would be heard by the council’s development standards committee instead of the full council.

Mr West has pointed out that only one Montrose councillors, Mark Salmond, sits on the committee and it would be fairer to allow all local councillors to have their say.

At last week’s Ferryden Community Council meeting he said he had asked Mr Stiff to look in to the possibility of this being reconsidered. He had also queried the matter with development standards manager Alan Hunter.

He said: “The council has given an indication that, according to the Scottish Government, it’s not major but I’ve asked if that can be appealed and I’m waiting for the chief executive to get back to me about that.

“It’s going to have a huge impact.”

In a letter to Mr West, Mr Hunter said that planning legislation indicates that certain, but not all, applications falling within the category of “major” require to be considered by the full council.

He said: “The council’s standing orders indicate that applications for ‘major’ development that are not significantly contrary to development plan and applications for ‘local’ development that require determination at member level will be decided by the development standards committee.

“This application falls within the definition of ‘local’ development and as such standing orders indicate that it would be determined by the development standards committee.

“I can confirm that this department appreciates that the proposal is likely to be of interest to the wider community. In this respect the planning application will be subject of publicity and consultation. Once the planning application is submitted, local community councils will be notified of its submission by means of the weekly list of planning applications and the application will be advertised.”

He added that “interested parties” will be able to submit their own comments at that stage and any representations will be taken into account in reaching a decision as will issues such as road access, impact on broadcast services and the potential impact on the historic built environment.

Daniel Paton, who chaired that section of the meeting, said the proposal is a “matter of major importance” to Ferryden and Montrose and one member of the public asked if there was any mechanism of appeal against the development standards committee’s decision.

Mr West said that if the proposal is turned down the applicant has a right of appeal but there is no similar course of action open to objectors.

Some of those against the proposal have already started to co-ordinate their efforts and are compiling a list of possible grounds for objection and Dr Paton urged anyone with an objection to make sure they submit their letters to the planning department at the appropriate time, once the objection has been lodged formally.

He added: “At a previous public meeting concerns included visual impact and how an attractive town and conservation area would be affected by huge constructions of this kind.

“I would like to see a delegation from Ferryden Community Coucnil to go to other local community councils to put their point of view and find out what steps they have taken to find out what their communities feel about it.”