Blow for North East offshore wind farm plans

CONTROVERSIAL plans for the offshore wind farm being opposed by Donald Trump suffered a hammer blow today when proposals for an onshore substation for the Aberdeen Bay development were thrown out by councillors.

Plans for an offshore wind farm have suffered a blow. Picture: TSPL
Plans for an offshore wind farm have suffered a blow. Picture: TSPL

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine area rejected the application from the consortium behind the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre for the construction of an electricity substation at Blackdog, close to Trump’s Menie golf resort, as part of the plan for the £230 million demonstrator wind farm in Aberdeen Bay.

A total of 62 out of 85 residents in the hamlet of Blackdog had written official letters of protest against the substation proposal to Aberdeenshire Council.

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The 11 turbine wind farm development in Aberdeen Bay is being spearheaded by Swedish company Vattenfall - Europe’s sixth-largest generator of electricity - together with the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (Areg), and engineering company Technip Offshore Wind.

The cutting-edge project is a demonstration facility for next generation wind turbines, which it is claimed could herald massive investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and drive Scotland’s offshore wind energy ambitions.

But today, following the shock decision, Iain Todd,the spokesman for the EOWDC project partners, said: “We are extremely disappointed at the decision. We believe this a missed opportunity for the region and that we could have worked with Aberdeenshire Council to agree further conditions to progress the scheme.”

He continued: “We will give careful consideration to the formal reasons for the decision before we decide our next steps.”

There was no immediate response from the Trump Organisation. But Donald Trump, who has already launched a legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s decision to approve the plans for the EOWDC, quickly tweeted: “When will Alex Salmond realise that he’s destroying Scotland - the most beautiful countryside in the world with his stupid wind turbines?”

The proposed onshore development would have comprised two electricity substation buildings and ancillary works on a former landfill site south of Hareburn Terrace in Blackdog and an underground cable route between the substation site and landfall

Formartine area committee members previously deferred their decision on the future of the site until an environmental impact assessment could be carried out. A total of 62 valid objections to the proposals were lodged before the deferral and 82 afterwards.

Officials had recommended that the scheme be approved, subject to a total of 21 conditions.

Stephen Archer, the council’s director of Infrastructure Services, told councillors: “There is known to be some asbestos within the site. The management of asbestos during site works is the responsibility of HSE. However there is a possibility that asbestos could lie close to the surface in disturbed soils following completion.”

He continued: “With regard to contamination of soil, the investigation has shown contaminant levels in the soil to be below the assessment criteria, which indicates that no risks to human health from soil contaminant concentrations have been identified.

“The presence of asbestos has been confirmed in only one location. The report highlights that as the landfill was licensed to accept waste, including asbestos, there is potential for further localised areas of significant asbestos impact which may require the adoption of suitable safe systems of work during the processes that involve the disturbance of soil. Suitable remedial measures are required to ensure that asbestos fibres do not become mobilised resulting in adverse effects to human health.”

Mr Archer stated: “The development plan aims to bring contaminated land back into use, thereby effectively reducing the number of such sites within Aberdeenshire, whilst ensuring public health and safety is not compromised.”

Recommending approval, Mr Archer said: “One of the Aberdeen City and Shire Structure Plan objectives is to take the lead in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide into the air which will involve increasing the supply of energy from renewable sources and in principle Aberdeenshire Council supports the installation of renewable energy facilities such as wind turbines where they are of a scale and in a location which avoids any significant impacts.

“Whilst in itself this proposal is not a wind energy development, it is a fundamental element of the Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm and so these criteria have a degree of relevance. In this regard, it is considered that the proposal is well related to the source of the primary renewable development, will not compromise public health and satisfactory steps have been taken to mitigate any negative development impacts on occupiers of nearby properties.”

The Trump Organisation’s petition for a judicial review on the Aberdeen Bay development is due to be called at the Court of Session in Edinburgh for a fixed four-day hearing from 12 November.

Mr Trump then posted: “The man who let terrorist (Pan Am Flight 103) al-Megrahi go, lost another battle over ugly wind turbines in Blackdog.

“Alex Salmond suffered a huge defeat by the people of Blackdog. Communities all over Scotland are fighting this loser.”