Aberdeenshire councillor suspended from decision-making

A North-east councillor has been suspended for six months after lobbying colleagues about a proposal to build a controversial wind turbine on his farm.

Turriff member Sandy Duncan first submitted plans to build a 150ft turbine at his Beechwood farm, near Forglen, three years ago. But, after a planning and court row, the scheme was finally rejected in February.

Cllr Duncan appeared before a Standards Commission hearing in Aberdeen, facing allegations he breached three parts of the councillors’ code of conduct The former SNP councillor, now an independent, admitted misusing his e-mail account to contact members of the Banff and Buchan area committee who were considering the planning application.

He acknowledged his behaviour could be seen as abusing his elected post, but despite strongly denying a third allegation that his actions amounted to “private lobbying” of colleagues, the hearing panel concluded Mr Duncan had breached the code.

Chairwoman Julie Ward said the panel accepted Mr Duncan’s “unblemished record” and acknowledged the fact he referred himself for investigation.

Mr Duncan said he sent the e-mails as an applicant, not as a councillor. He is suspended from decision-making for six months but remains as a councillor.