Ellon councillor calls for turbine time limit rethink

editorial image

AN Ellon councillor has called for the council to rethink the current time limits attached to wind turbine developments, after the local authority dropped the 25-year duration imposed on applications.

Cllr Rob Merson told the Times that planning grants for wind developments ordinarily have a 25-year time limit attached. However this requirement has since been dropped by the local authority in favour of a new restriction which mandates the removal of non-productive turbines.

Speaking to the Times, Cllr Merson said that he had concerns that the new condition would limit future councillors’ freedom of action.

“Although I have been supportive of wind turbines in principle, I have always taken the view that they represent a part of the solution available at this time - but that they are likely to be superseded by more efficient means of generation in the future. The imposition of a 25-year period of planning permission is therefore one which guarantees a suitable investment period, but could facilitate their removal at an appropriate juncture - with the option to extend that permission further if justified.”

“Although I have supported many such applications, I have done so with the confidence that they would not be a feature of the landscape in perpetuity - and that a future generation of elected members would rightly have the opportunity of reviewing that planning permission in 25 years time. I therefore feel that it is even more important that we do not remove the safeguards which ensure that, at some point in the future, it might be possible to largely restore the rural landscape to its ‘original’ condition.”

Planning officers are now in the process of seeking a legal opinion on the 25-year issue, but Cllr. Merson contends that the removal of the limit has serious political implications, for which reason the elected members ought to have been involved in the decision.

“It may ultimately be that the most appropriate time limit will be identified as a longer or shorter period - but until such time as that is established, the 25-year limit should be retained as a standard condition on all wind turbine applications. Although turbines do require planning permission, they are not buildings; they are items of plant and equipment and should be treated as such.”

Cllr Merson added that, in addition to writing to planning officials, he would be seeking a meeting to clarify the council’s position.