A Perthshire councillor who has played a leading role in bringing walkers to the area surprised his colleagues by speaking out in favour of a controversial wind farm development.
Councillor Bob Ellis threw his weight behind the Green Burn wind farm project which would involve 11 turbines near to the existing Drumderg wind farm, Alyth.
Addressing the development management committee on Wednesday Mr Ellis, who co-founded the Cateran Trail which attracts 8,000 people a year, conceded that local people were split by the plan.
However he didn’t believe claims that wind farms deterred visitors from coming to Perthshire.
”The area has never been as busy as far as accommodation is concerned,” he told the meeting.
Mr Ellis said he transported many walkers from their accommodation and he always asked them if there were any issues with the Cateran Trail needed to be addressed.
“Nobody since 1999 has said anything about wind farms,” he said.
Mr Ellis also supported the wind farm as the financial benefits to the community – in the region of £165,000 each year – were considerable.
The meeting earlier heard from local farmer Alison Petrie who made an impassioned plea to reject the project claiming it would damage wildlife, tourism and the local economy.
Clark Crosbie for the applicants, ABO Wind UK, said assertions that the plan would harm tourism were “unsubstantiated” and that £7 million would be injected into the economy during construction.
He also said that the turbines would create enough electricity to power 19,000 homes.
After the committee voted eight to four to reject the plans Mr Crosbie said they were “extremely disappointed” .
“We have worked very closely and collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders over the past three years to develop this project and we believe very strongly it complied with all relevant technical and planning requirements,” he said.
“In particular, we believe that Green Burn wind farm is an appropriately designed wind farm, located within an area the council has formally identified as suitable for a wind farm of 13 to 20 turbines up to 120m high”.
“We were especially disappointed with the planner’s recommendation to refuse on landscape and visual impact grounds.
“ABO Wind will now review the decision in detail before considering our next steps.”