A PROPOSAL for a Dunbar community wind turbine which developers claimed would generate �200,000 per year for local projects has been rejected by councillors.

But one councillor fears the decision could be overturned on appeal to the Scottish Government.

Dunbar Community Energy Company (DCECo) applied to East Lothian Council to erect a 56.3-metre-high turbine on Blackcastle Hill, south of Innerwick, about 200 metres south-west of existing telecommunications masts.

DCECo - a trading subsidiary of charity Sustaining Dunbar - claimed the project, which would cost about �1.7 million, would generate up to �4 million in its 20-year lifetime, with projects able to apply for grants from that money.

Ian Waugh, project officer for DCECo, told a planning committee meeting on Tuesday that the Lammermuir Hills already hosted 101 turbines, "each over twice the height and four times the power ration of our single community turbine", but those combined only made an annual community contribution of �209,125.

Mr Waugh added: "It's all about perception, and my perception is that a community turbine is a good thing to look at.

"I feel if people look up and see the blades turning, that's money coming into their community. Local jobs are what we need and this turbine supports that." Graeme Crawford, agent for the application, said the site had been chosen following a feasibility study of several different locations.

He said: "From a technical planning point of view, we felt this site was ideal for wind. There's a great wind resource there and existing access to the site." Two others spoke in favour of the turbine, saying it would make available the kind of funds which projects currently had difficulty getting access to.

However, David Allan - secretary of campaign group Sustain a Beautiful East Lothian (SABEL) - said: "The turbine fails the tests in the key local plan policy NRG3 in that the proposed turbine would change the existing landscape character in an unacceptable way.

"It doesn't meet the alternative locations test in the local plan policy and it would lead to unacceptable cumulative visual landscape impacts." Janette MacDonald, of East Lammermuir Community Council, said the group had surveyed residents on the proposal.

Of 115 households which responded, 55 were opposed and 32 in favour, the rest being neutral.

She added that it fell foul of "local, regional and national planning guidance", would have an adverse impact on the conservation village of Oldhamstocks, and would make a "very limited contribution" to the promotion of renewable energy.

A total of 46 objections were lodged and 54 letters of support.

The council's planning department recommended the plan for refusal as it would appear as a "highly exposed and obtrusive skyline feature" and could not be accommodated on that site according to the council's East Lothian Supplementary Landscape Capacity Study for Smaller Wind Turbines (December 2011).

Councillor Paul McLennan (SNP), not on the planning committee but a member for Dunbar and East Linton, said: "We've heard about our own guidance - and it is guidance, remember.

"We've had the precedence of this before, regarding community benefits against visual impact - [a turbine at] Ferneylea [near Oldhamstocks] was one.

"There is no doubt in my view there is a visual impact in this but I feel the proposed community benefits outweigh these." However, councillors on the committee unanimously rejected the proposal - and asked that the developer take note of local views by not appealing the decision.

Councillor Michael Veitch (Con), Dunbar ward member, said: "It's an extremely important point that East Lammermuir Community Council did a survey and on the basis of the feedback they received, they've objected.

"This application is also contrary to our own capacity study and I think there would be very serious credibility issues if we were to ignore our own guidance." He added: "If East Lothian Council rejects this turbine. . . I would certainly hope that the community energy company would respect that and wouldn't seek to take this application any further." But Councillor Jim Goodfellow (Lab) said: "One of the problems with this having been brought to the committee is now it's eligible to go to appeal.

"That appeal, going by previous appeals, would very likely end up with this being approved by the Scottish Government despite total opposition from locals." Councillor David Berry (ind) said: "I believe this is a good initiative with an ill-considered site. The site is inappropriate for what's being proposed." Labour councillors Willie Innes and John McMillan said they could not support a plan with such low community support in the east Lammermuir area.

Planning convenor Councillor Norman Hampshire (Lab), Dunbar ward member, added: "A wind turbine controlled and owned by the community, I fully support having that within my area.

"However, it's the location that's the most difficult part."