By Jamie Buchan

A businessman whose plans for a travellers camp in the countryside left his
neighbours furious has now tabled proposals for a major windfarm.

Bob Ritchie believes his four-turbine development south of Banff will bring
a much-needed economic boost to the local area.

But the scheme is facing mounting opposition from local residents and
scores of them are already urging members of Aberdeenshire Council to
reject it.

Mr Ritchie had previously stunned locals at Linganbo, near King Edward,
when he unveiled proposals for a dedicated halting site for gypsy-travellers.

He tabled his plan after the local authority stopped him from building his
dream retirement home at the location – a decision he blamed on objections
by residents.

In June last year, Mr Ritchie withdrew his proposal for a travellers camp
after about 40 complaints from people living nearby.

A later bid to turn the site into a holiday park was rejected.

The 58-year-old farmer now wants to erect four turbines on land between
King Edward and Longmanhill.

He has submitted planning applications for a 150ft mast at Linganbo and
three 250ft structures at Cairnandrew, near his home.

Council planners have received more than 150 letters and e-mails calling
for the proposals to be blocked.

But they have also received about 40 messages from supporters, who believe
the project could boost the area, safeguard Mr Ritchie’s existing business
and help meet Scottish Government renewable targets.

Opponents argue that the area is already “saturated” with turbines and that
his development would have a further overbearing impact on nearby homes as
well as the wider surrounding area.

One of the objectors, windfarm campaigner Jim Bayne, of Banff, said the
masts would dominate the landscape.

He said: “There would appear to be about 60 turbines approved within a
five-kilometre (3.1-mile) radius of the proposed site, with over 100 within
a 10 kilometre (6.3-mile) radius.

“This area is now saturated with wind turbines and the cumulative effect is
unacceptable.”

Fiona Mackinnon, who runs the Balhagan Equestrian Stables at nearby
Bruntyards, has also objected.

She said the project could stop tourists visiting the area.

Mr Ritchie has insisted the development would be an asset to the area, with
the potential to generate about £750,000 for the community over its 25-year
lifespan.

He said he was getting ready to retire from farming and thought the
windfarm would be a way of giving something back to the area.

“Once these turbines are up and running, they would make around £30,000
each year,” he said.

“This would be divided between King Edward School, the village hall and the
church.”

The mast applications have already won clearance from the Ministry of
Defence and air traffic controllers at Dyce.

The scheme is likely to be discussed by members of the council’s Banff and
Buchan area committee in the coming weeks.

A previous application by Mr Ritchie to instal two turbines at the Linganbo
site was rejected in March last year.


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