Public could invest in Mormond Hill windfarm proposal

RESIDENTS from the Buchan area were given the opportunity to review refined plans for a new energy project proposed for Mormond Hill at the second public consultation which was held in Rathen village hall last week.

Turriff based Muirden Energy unveiled their ambitious plans for the development of a 12 turbine wind farm on the south side of Mormond Hill in April.

The first public consultation, which was held in Strichen during June, resulted in refined plans being unveiled at Rathen, addressing concerns raised that one of the turbines could spoil the view of the famous ‘White Horse.’

Commenting on the consultation, Business development manager Alex Fowlie said: “We had first meeting at Strichen where there was overwhelming support from members of the public. Of the few concerns raised, one was that one of the turbines was too prominent behind the nearest tavern, The White Horse. It was suggested that this turbine be moved slightly. A public exhibition was held on Thursday showing the new layout.”

“Consultants are working on the final plans and we hope to lodge a full planning application with Abersdeenshire Council in the coming months.”

Muirden Energy has made an agreement with community wind farm co-operative Energy4All which could see the local area benefit from the proposal should it go ahead.

Paul Phare, Scottish Development Manager at Energy4All said: “We are a non profit organisation with the objective of engaging communities with renewable energy by allowing members of the local community to invest in wind farming. We use the co-operative model which means that people can come and work together in an ethical and business like way to share the benefits of wind farming. It is financial investment for financial return.”

“Renewable energy business is flying up on the agenda mainly because the Scottish Government have pinned their colours to that mast.”

The Scottish Government plans to meet targets amounting to 500 megawatts of community owned renewable energy by 2020 and Mr Phares says that this is a great way to achieve this.

Energy4all have an agreement with Muirden Energy to invite as many local people as possible to get involved with the Mormond Hill project.

They aim to encourage community groups to take control themselves, encouraging communities to form partnerships with renewable energy businesses.

Mr Phares explains: “We will put together a public share offer and people can read it and decide whether to get involved. Shares are £1 each and remain at £1 each. People could make four times as much interest as can get from banks at the moment.”

If the co-operative is oversubscribed, people living closest to the wind farm will receive priority.

“When people object to turbines and wind farms for personal reasons, they can make it sounds like whole community is against them,” explains Mr Phares, “But we have found that most people think they are a good thing and they want them. We are trying to engage with that silent majority.”