Proposals for eight wind turbines at Hill of Braco have been dealt another blow as Scottish Natural Heritage have objected to the plans.
The proposed Hill of Braco Wind Farm has been earmarked for development at Moss of Cruden by PNE Wind.
The plans were lodged with Aberdeenshire Council earlier this year and a number of organisations including the Ministry of Defence, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Aberdeen Airport have objected since.
The Ellon Times understands the plans could come before the council’s Buchan Area Committee next week.
Local residents voiced concerns about an increase in the volume of traffic, effects on livestock and farming, impact on school travel and concerns for wildlife.
Scottish Natural Heritage were concerned that the turbines would have “an adverse effect on the integrity of the Buchan Ness to Collieston Coast Special Protection Area (SPA) and the welfare of Herring Gulls”.
Additionally, they said: “We have a number of concerns relating to the effects of the proposal on the nearby Moss of Cruden SSSI.”
Previously, the RSPB objected to the proposals based on “potential adverse impacts on Herring Gulls”.
PNE Wind recently had their second planning application, a proposed wind farm on Brunta Hill near Westruther, turned down by Scottish Borders Council.
Regarding PNE’s latest planning refusal, the Moss of Cruden Windfarm Awareness Group (MOCWAG) commented: “This sensible and correct decision by Borders Council confirms to us just how inappropriate PNE Wind’s plans for their Hill of Braco wind farm on our doorstep are.
“As local residents we have absolutely no confidence in this company and their project team, due to the lack of meaningful consultation undertaken by the company.
“PNE have had no success yet in any of the projects they have put to planning in Scotland and have no experience at all in operating a wind farm in this country.
“The community that surrounds the Hill of Braco have been left seriously concerned about many major issues and the adverse impact that this vast industrial development would have on them, the surrounding area, the Local Conservation Area and the whole of Buchan. Local residents have had no reassurance about many of their fears and have not heard from PNE at all since the plans were submitted. For example some residents have been told that their private water supplies may potentially be at risk and have been informed by the replacement project manager that in the event of contamination or loss of water supply any alternative mains water supply being provided by PNE is “not an option” and that only bottled water would be provided.
“Residents feel that their human rights are being abused and that they are being made to suffer unnecessary worry about losing this vital amenity and their concerns have been disregarded by PNE.
“Despite PNE’s claims that they have local support for this project, over 1,000 people have lodged an official objection to the development with Aberdeenshire Council Planning Department and only three people expressing support. We believe this shows the lack of support for this insensitively sited project.”
A spokesperson from PNE Wind UK said: “Since 2011, we have been working actively with the local community and key stakeholders to ensure that our plans are the most appropriate fit for the local area. If consented, our proposals could provide opportunities for a wide range of local construction suppliers and deliver a locally managed community benefit fund worth up to £100,000 a year during the project lifespan.
“We remain in contact with consultees and believe that the assessments we have undertaken and the measures we have put in place address the questions raised regarding the project. The Hill of Braco site is one of the few locations in Buchan that can help Scotland reach its renewable energy potential and I hope that local councillors will recognise the merits of our proposals.