Trump-opposed wind farm team appeal works refusal

THE developers behind controversial plans for the offshore wind farm being opposed by Donald Trump are to appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the vital onshore substation for the Aberdeen Bay development
Donald Trump's Menie golf resort is near the proposed site for the substation. Picture: PADonald Trump's Menie golf resort is near the proposed site for the substation. Picture: PA
Donald Trump's Menie golf resort is near the proposed site for the substation. Picture: PA

The project partners behind the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) suffered a hammer blow last October when plans for the onshore transmission works were thrown out by councillors on the local planning authority, Aberdeenshire Council’s Formartine area committee.

The electricity substation would be sited at Blackdog, close to Trump’s Menie golf resort, as part of the plan for the £230 million demonstrator wind farm in Aberdeen Bay.

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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, some raising concerns about potential asbestos contamination in the area.

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.

Today a spokeswoman for the developers announced that the project partners have submitted an appeal to the Scottish Government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals in relation to the area committee’s refusal of planning permission.

She said: “Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd, the joint venture driving forward the pioneering wind farm, has stated in its appeal that the proposal for the substation is consistent with local planning policy and would prove a strategic asset to the Energetica initiative. AOWFL has also gathered further expert evidence that health risks associated with asbestos found on the site are very low.”

Andy Paine, head of offshore wind development for Vattenfall in the UK, said: “The EOWDC will prove a strategic asset to the North east’s drive to lead the development and deployment of cleaner energy and, in particular, to Energetica - a 30-mile, energy industry-focused development corridor which aims to become a key destination for innovation, knowledge, learning and skills in current and future energy generation.”

“Following a detailed design process and extensive exploratory work, Blackdog is considered the most appropriate site for the onshore works and, as such, we hope that the appeal process concludes positively and as early as possible.”

The report is to be made publically available with all other appeal documentation on the DPEA’s website. The spokeswoman for the developers said: “The conclusions of the report by the Director of Analytical Services at the Institute of Occupational Medicine support those of a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out by the project partners.

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“Although not considered necessary by Aberdeenshire Council’s planning officers, the EIA was undertaken at the request of the Formartine Area Committee and an Environmental Statement (ES) submitted to Aberdeenshire Council in August, 2013. Both the ES and asbestos risk assessment conclude that the risk from asbestos to health in this case is very low and that the proposed development would not compromise health and safety as appropriate construction control measures and planning conditions would be implemented – a prerequisite that the project partners have always been committed to.”

She added: “The Onshore Transmission Works form a vital component of the EOWDC which has been widely recognised by industry as strategically important to accelerating the development of the offshore wind industry and demonstrating next generation technology. As a demonstration facility for up to 11 wind turbines and associated technology, the EOWDC would prove to be a major investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and a vital boost to its offshore wind ambitions.”

George Sorial, executive vice president and counsel Trump Organisation,said: “We have already instructed our legal team to challenge the appeal and fight every aspect of this terrible scheme”

He claimed: “The Formartine Area Committee determined that Vattenfall’s proposal, which would be constructed over a toxic landfill site, is dangerous and puts many lives at risk. This project is fraught with insurmountable problems and the worst type of politics. It would be a financial and environmental disaster for Scotland.”