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United Kingdom

Jobs blow after council rejects 42 MW Drummuir project

A local authority's refusal of consent for a wind farm has revealed that new British jobs are not necessarily a material consideration in deciding wind farm applications. The project's developer, Renewable Energy Systems (RES), had chosen to buy British for its planned 42 MW wind farm on the Drummuir Estate near Keith in north-east Scotland. The company had hoped the local council would consider that 80% UK content, securing jobs in Scotland and England, would carry some weight when making its decision. RES forged an agreement with turbine manufacturer Dewind of Loughborough, owned by the British FKI group, for provision of 21, 2 MW turbines if the project went ahead. The blades were to be produced by NOI Scotland, creating an additional 35 jobs there, and the towers by Cambrian Engineering at Arnish in the western isles. Moray Council's planning committee, however, followed the advice of its planning officer and voted unanimously to reject the application. Its grounds were the visual impact of the wind farm in a rural area. According to Hunter, the council ruled that jobs were not a material issue in determining the application. "They were not even saying that on balance the downside of visual impact outweighed the upside of jobs," he says. "They were saying these considerations do not matter." Several UK developers had been observing RES's buy-British initiative with interest. "The decision sends signals back to them that UK content doesn't matter," says Hunter.

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