Ex-Deputy First Minister of Scotland loses Aberdeenshire wind farm planning application – for fifth time


Lord Nicol Stephen - in happier times
Lord Nicol Stephen – in happier times

3 December 2014

The application by Nicol Stephen – a former Deputy First Minister of Scotland who was latterly appointed as a member of the un-elected UK House of Lords after losing his Holyrood seat – for planning permission for a wind farm in rural Aberdeenshire has been rejected again.

This means that LibDem Lord Stephen, a resident of Morningside, Aberdeen and director of Renewable Energy Ventures, has now applied – unsuccessfully – five times for permission to build two 2.3MW wind turbines (extending to more than 300-feet in height)  near Blackhills Farm, Cushnie, Alford.

The plan was recommended for refusal by the planning development committee under the council’s scheme of delegation – which was accepted by local members. Renewable Energy Ventures then appealed in the first instance to the council’s ‘local review board’ which upheld the initial refusal following a site visit to Cushnie.

Aberdeenshire planning officials had already sent the planning application for the Cushnie scheme back to REV on two occasions because of “factual inaccuracies” in environmental statements.  A third application was blocked by the council in 2012, and a fourth bid to erect two 325ft masts was dismissed in May this year amid fears about the impact on the local area.

Stephen’s wind-farm planning advisors – the Edinburgh-based Green Cat Renewables consultancy – did not respond to inquiries from Scottish Energy News as to whether Renewable Energy Ventures would further appeal the council decision to Scot-Govt Planning Reporters – which is in effect a planning appeals court where Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Energy Minister, has the final decision.

However, local Aberdeenshire anti-wind farm campaigners said they hoped the verdict would convince the one-time deputy first minister of Scotland to finally drop the proposals for the site.

Linda van Weereld, Chairman of The Stop Turbines in Cushnie (Stic) group – which was established when the plans were first unveiled in 2011 – said:

Hopefully Lord Stephen and the landowner will now accept that there is no likelihood of building their industrial-sized monstrosities in the Cushnie countryside.

“A total of 338 letters of representation were submitted to the council’s planning department; only two were in support. Stop Turbines in Cushnie welcomes the decision by both the planning department and the local review body.

“If Lord Nicol Stephen has any consideration whatsoever for those that objected, we would welcome their assurances that they will make no further applications for this area.”

Earlier this year Lord Stephen was censured by the House of Lords conduct committee over gaps in his official register of green energy interests. Westminster Standards Commissioner Paul Kernaghan found that the former LibDem Holyrood MP for Aberdeen South had breached the code by failing to register all of his directorships of renewable energy firms.

As reported last month by Scottish Energy News, Lord Stephen is also a director of another green ‘gold-rush’ company Kincardine Offshore Windfarm company which aims to submit plans for what would be the tallest North Sea windfarm in the first half of next year.

The company first announced its proposals for the floating windfarm project earlier this summer and last month announced that they hope to submit an application to Marine Scotland in the first half of 2015. The scheme comprises an eight-turbine floating windfarm off the coast of Kincardineshire between Dundee and Aberdeen.

 Allan MacAskill – brother of Holyrood MP and former Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill (who left the government last week after failing to be re-appointed in the new Government of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon) – is also a Director of the Kincardine Offshore Windfarm company.

See also: http://goo.gl/AakzPR



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