Ferryden residents are preparing to take a stand and lodge objections against GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) proposals to site two wind turbines at its local factory.
At a packed public meeting in the village last week members of the community said that, while they understand and support the company’s reasons for introducing wind power to its site, they disagree strongly with the turbines’ proposed locations.
The meeting, held in Inchbrayock Church Hall, was called by Ferryden and Craig Community Council to try to gauge the community’s feelings on the issue before it adopts a formal position regarding the company’s forthcoming planning application. It followed GSK’s own public information event, held in the Links Hotel two weeks ago.
The proposals involve locating the 426-feet high turbines on the south side of its Cobden Street site, directly across the river from the village.
The meeting was addressed by Ian Morrow, GSK’s operations manager, and operations director Dale Curless who outlined the company’s reasons for erecting the turbines. Mr Curless said the move would, in line with other GSK sites, help to cut the factory’s carbon footprint and energy costs, reduce the use of fossil fuels to the environment’s benefit and ensure the Montrose site remains competitive with a sustainable future.
He said: “If not, it’s more likely the opposite will happen and the future of the company might not be as successful. If GSK Montrose isn’t successful, employment to the community won’t be successful.”
Mr Morrow said that while other renewable energy technologies have been considered, wind power is the only one which will generate the amount of electricity the factory requires.
He also said the company’s environmental impact assessment is nearing completion and, with 20 different statutory consultees involved, there have so far been “no show-stoppers”. The £8 million cost of the turbines is higher than comparable projects due to the company’s attempts to mitigate against common complaints.
He added: “They are low noise due to their shape and sound-proofing; as far as shadow flicker is concerned they have mitigation computers in them which shuts the turbines at appropriate times according to sunlight level, the time of day and the time of year.
“The only thing we can’t mitigate against is that people can see them and that’s the main reason people will be concerned.”
Several members of the public challenged the sound level, claimed to be 45 decibels, which they said could still be an annoyance if the turbines run continually; there were also safety concerns raised about blades possibly shearing off as well as their distance from the village.
Mr Morrow said many of the concerns have been addressed in the environmental impact assessment and a number of organisations, including the Health and Safety Executive, had been consulted. He also pointed out the turbines would only be able to run under licence from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), which would audit the site several times a year.
The turbines’ visual impact was the main concern and suggestions were put forward for alternative locations including offshore and at Broomfield where they would have less impact on the townscape, although Mr Morrow pointed out that an offshore site would cost “10 times as much”. There were also suggestions that more, smaller turbines could be considered but space for them would be a problem.
There was general agreement among those present that there was strong opposition to the scheme and community councillor Daniel Paton said the committee would take that view forward.
Ferryden resident and former community councillor Tina McLean emphasised there is no animosity towards GSK, just disagreement over the turbines’ sites. She said: “I agree we need renewables, they have to be the future. What I object to is the visual impact. The community council has gone to a lot of bother and expense to make the village nice and now we have this monstrosity.”
Dr Paton urged every household with an objection to lodge their concerns with the council at the appropriate time but added that the community council will begin building a case to object to the scheme formally.