by Jamie Ross

A north-east windfarm developer has asked the Scottish Government to
release him from an agreement to fund affordable homes in Turriff.

James Norrie, who won planning permission to install three turbines at
Cairnhill, near Turriff in 2014, applied to Aberdeenshire Council earlier
this year to get out of the agreement to fund the houses.

He had previously agreed to provide £1,870 every year for the lifetime of
the structures to affordable housing projects in the area.

He was backed by planners who recommended that the original deal was
scrapped, due to a change in Scottish Government policy.

They told councillors it was no longer “reasonable” to expect the
contributions from Mr Norrie, as they had not been earmarked for a specific
development.

Councillors, however, were furious at the proposal and blocked the change.

But Mr Norrie has now taken his claim to the Scottish Government to try and
stop the payments being made.

Ian Downie, a planning consultant with Case Consulting Ltd, has prepared a
report to the government on behalf of the windfarm company.

He told the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division at the Scottish
Government that councillor on Formartine’s area committee were “misadvised”
and refused his client’s application on “completely incompetent” grounds.

He added: “It was not legally competent for the authority to seek to
procure a substantial financial benefit purely in response to an
applicant’s desire to obtain a planning consent.

“The committee, having been misadvised, declined to approve the application
and justified that decision on grounds which are completely incompetent.

“Accordingly, and having regard to the foregoing submission, it is
respectfully requested that this appeal be sustained.”

Turriff’s community council had written to councillors advising the
proposal be thrown out.

Vice-chairman Mike Rawlins said the group was opposed to money being taken
away from the community.

He added: “Housing across Aberdeenshire is at a premium, especially for
low-paid workers including those working in the care sector, the NHS and
education.

“The removal of contributions for affordable housing should not be allowed
and would set a dangerous precedent.”

The Scottish Government has set a target of June 28 for a decision on the
appeal.


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