Councillors have backed “innovative” plans for a green whisky distillery and visitor centre near Turriff.
The plan will include the conversion and extension of existing farm buildings to form a distillery while a new visitor centre will be constructed on adjacent land.
The old Yonderton Bungalow currently located on the visitor centre site will be demolished.
Both the distillery and visitor centre will be powered by energy created by wind turbines that are currently on the farm.
It is anticipated that the business could create up to ten new jobs in the local area and help to bring tourists to the region.
The visitor centre will have a cafe space, tasting rooms and bar, while tours will be available to give guests the chance to see how the distillery operates.
Applicant Wilson Strachan of Balmaud Distillery Company had applied to Aberdeenshire Council seeking planning permission for the development at Yonderton Farm.
The application was considered by the Banff and Buchan Area Committee on Tuesday.
Council planners had recommended the plan be approved, however councillor Glen Reynolds said there were still “outstanding questions” to be answered about the development.
Despite this he said he was “happy” to grant the proposal, and added: “It’s not an ideal situation but I wouldn’t want to halt the process. It’s a delight to see an application like this come forward with real prospects of socio-economic development.”
Councillor Mark Findlater moved a motion to grant the application, and said: “I think it is a very exciting proposal and would be fantastic for the area, and indeed an asset tourist attraction and a much needed employment opportunity.”
Meanwhile councillor John Cox welcomed the “innovative approach” to power the development with turbines, and said: “I think this will be a very important economic contribution to the local area.”
However, councillor Michael Roy moved an amendment to defer the application for more information on outstanding issues including effluent water.
His amendment received no support, so the application was approved.
Prior to the meeting a statement by project architects Mantell Ritchie said that Mr Strachan and his family have been looking to invest in a whisky distillery for many years.
It said: “The aim of the proposed development is to create a whisky distillery and malting plant at Yonderton Farm which will contribute to the local economy through employment opportunities and bringing tourists into the area.”
As well as producing whisky at the new distillery, the family hope to distil and sell other spirits in the future including gin.
King Edward and Gamrie Community Council supported the proposal, stating that the investment in the area was “very welcome”.
By local democracy reporter Kirstie Topp