Date Added - 03/07/12
Moray Council today became one of the first local authorities in Scotland to seek a moratorium on windfarm applications.
The council will call on the Scottish Government to agree to freeze applications for windfarm developments in Moray for the duration of a public consultation on new policy guidance on the erection of wind turbines.
The council’s planning and regulatory services committee felt it would be inconsistent to accept new applications while the public’s views were being sought on the future of wind energy developments in Moray.
The committee approved a draft document containing updated guidance on dealing with planning applications for onshore wind turbines.
It will now become the subject of extensive consultation to obtain the views of as wide an audience as possible.
Once finally approved, the new guidance will be treated as a material consideration in determining planning applications for all wind turbines over 20 metres in height.
The guidance proposes that the council’s overall strategy for considering wind turbine proposals is guided by four key principles:
The council’s existing policy guidance on wind energy was drawn up in 2005, since when there have been increasing concerns about the potential impact of wind turbines on the Moray landscape.
Committee chairman Councillor Douglas Ross said the consultation would continue until September 14 following which a further report would go before councillors summarising comments received prior to the final document being approved.
He said: “The committee unanimously agreed to seek this moratorium as we want to make it clear to the people in Moray that we are genuinely consulting and listening to their views.
“It is up to the Scottish Government to agree to this request but I think with the cross-party backing today we have a very strong argument. For the next few months we want to hear the varied views from people across Moray on this important issue.
“I’m also pleased the consultation will run into September so even those away on holiday will get the opportunity to be fully engaged.”
Councillor Ross added: “The committee also agreed, following a vote, to include a reference about community funds. We propose that the draft document states that the council do not expect developers to discuss potential community funds before an application is determined. There has been growing concern from many communities that the financial benefits for an area are presented before an application is even submitted which brings with it various accusations. It is now included in our consultation to hear local views on this crucial point.”
A dedicated webpage containing all council policy documents relating to wind turbine planning will be set up on the council’s website at www.moray.gov.uk and will go live on July 10.
Copies of the draft guidance will be sent to community councils, area forums and a range of other organisations and interested parties and copies will also be available at Moray Council offices and local libraries.
It is also proposed to hold a series of workshop-style public meetings, with the dates and venues still to be finalised.