The submission of a revised application for a windfarm near Stonehaven has failed to change the opinion of Netherley locals, who opposed the first set of plans in 2001.
Renewable Energy Systems (RES) saw their original bid to build 10 turbines at Meikle Carewe thrown out by the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee in December 2001. Reasons for rejection included the effect on local residents, problems with television reception and the possible impact on flights to Aberdeen airport.
The company has now resubmitted plans for a windfarm there with 12 smaller turbines covering a smaller area. They say they have resolved the issues that surrounded their previous application, particularly with regard to problems of TV reception.
But North Kincardine Rural Community Council (NKRCC) members are sceptical and claim little has changed from the last development on the two hills north of Stonehaven.
A spokesman for RES said: “The layout of the wind farm, size and number of turbines have all changed. The wind farm described in the current application has been carefully designed using three-dimensional visualisation software to minimise visual impact and reduce the risk of television interference.
“In 2001 television interference was to be addressed with the erection of a TV signal repeater mast on the wind farm site. The application for the TV mast was granted at the time. However, research conducted using the BBC’s online windfarm interference tool and further sophisticated internal assessment, has indicated that a signal repeater mast will not be required with the new design.
“As RES indicated to local residents that attended the public exhibition, at Stonehaven Leisure Centre on September 30, it is possible that a small number of properties in the vicinity of the wind farm, may experience a drop in television reception quality. However, the assessment of possible interference indicates that only up to 40 properties could potentially be affected. Based on RES’s operational experience this number is likely to be much lower.
“Based on the current generation mix, Meikle Carewe would displace the emission of around 23,050 tonnes of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, in its first year of operation. It would also result in substantial savings of other pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen and sulphur. These pollution savings would continue throughout the entire life of the wind farm.”
But an NKRCC spokesman hit back, saying: “The location is almost identical, as is the number of turbines and we already have reactions from local residents indicating that their feelings towards it are very much as before. They consider it to be too near housing, too prominent and still very likely to present significant problems with TV reception.
He added, since the adoption of the new Local Plan earlier this year, the RES application “contravenes the Renewable Energy policy contained in the plan.”
“That policy states that ridgelines should be avoided, whereas this proposal is located exactly there ““ on a ridgeline. The Community Council has yet to see the Environmental Statement accompanying the application but will be inspecting it very closely in the coming weeks.”
Vice-Chairman Robin Winmill said the TV reception issue would be very closely looked at.
“We remain to be convinced that this major problem has been overcome,” he said. “It was never solely a problem for those living nearest, but as became evident five years ago, potentially for hundreds of people living as far away as Portlethen and Newtonhill.”
Meanwhile, local resident Robert Keeler was scathing about the application.
He said: “I suppose that calling it a ‘wind farm’ is supposed to make us think that this is something that fits neatly into the countryside. It doesn’t ““ it’s a power station on top of a hill, visible for miles and impinging on people’s amenity and quality of life.”
The RES Spokesman said residents’ television amenity would be protected by an agreement between the company and the council
He said: “With respect to the properties that may be affected, RES will expect a ‘Section 75′ planning agreement to protect residents’ television amenity.
“Simple methods of mitigation exist to overcome potential television signal interference.
“This could include the installation of a new aerial, provision of digital reception equipment ““ something all homes will need soon when the government shuts down analogue TV broadcasting ““ or retuning existing aerials towards the Angus transmitter. Any work required would be funded entirely at RES’s cost.
“Further details of the assessment of potential television interference are contained in the full environmental statement that will be shortly submitted to Aberdeenshire Council. RES has also invited the North Kincardine Rural Community Council to have a copy of the environmental statement that it can make available to residents in the area it serves.”
A website dedicated to the development is available at www.meikle-carewe.co.uk.
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