Campaigners in and around Auchtermuchty were last night celebrating news that plans for a highly controversial windfarm close to the town have been thrown out by a Scottish Government appeals Reporter.
The decision has been made only a month after a public inquiry was held in the town to hear the appeal submitted by the company EnergieKontor in relation to their proposals for five huge wind turbines and associated works at Rossie, close to the local Common.
The company had lodged its appeal on grounds of non-determination of the application by Fife Council, thus taking the responsibility for the decision making process away from the local authority.
News filtered through to the community late yesterday afternoon, and was immediately praised by one of the local Fife councillors, Donald Lothian, who lives in the town.
He said that the decision is extremely welcome, and will be met with delight and relief in equal measure by local residents, but particularly by those living in close proximity to the proposed site.
“Many people have campaigned tirelessly against this proposal and their efforts have been justifiably rewarded.
“This was never a debate about the merits or otherwise of wind power, but simply about the suitability at this particular location of structures of the size and with the characteristics of the proposed wind turbines”.
The vice chairman of the Auchtermuchty Landscape and Environment Group(ALE) Graeme Whyte, was jubilant last night, and he that that local people felt this was the only decision that could have been reached. The main concerns, he said, had been the scale of the development, the wrong choice of location, and its proximity to the town.
He said that the group was also pleased that the decision had been reached so quickly after a debate that had lasted for the best part of two years.
In his decision letter Reporter David Gordon said that noise would be unlikely to cause an unacceptable problem during the construction phase, but the position with operational noise was less straightforward.
He said that the appellant had acknowledged that under some conditions, during both the day and night, the turbines would result in noticeable increases in noise levels at a large number of properties.
Given the close proximity of the turbines to a large number of houses, he said, he attached some weight to the issue.
Mr Gordon also said that Auchtermuchty Common is a high quality and highly valued area of community owned open space, is of historic interest, and is a locally designated wildlife site.
Three of the proposed turbines, he said, would be only about 180 metres from the southern field, and he considered that most people who use the common for recreation would perceive the visual impact as “major and adverse”.
“In certain wind conditions this would no longer be a peaceful place. I consider this to be a significant disadvantage of the proposed development” said the Reporter.
In addition he made it clear that he the proposals to be contrary to the emerging development plan because of the significant adverse environmental effects, and would also be contrary to draft supplementary planning guidance on wind energy.
Mr Gordon said that more than 400 objections were received, and most of the issues raised were relevant planning matters.
“I attach significant weight to those expressions of local concern” he said.
Last night there was more more reaction to the decision, and North East Fife MSP Iain Smith said there had always been serious planning issues surrounding this application.
“I regret that the applicants decided to pre-empt the proper local consideration of the application by Fife Council by appealing on grounds of non-determination to the Scottish Government.
“However, it would appear that the Inquiry Reporter has taken full account of local concerns and I am pleased that he has come to the right decision in this case” said Mr Smith.
Mid Scotland and Fife Conservative MSP Ted Brocklebank said he also welcomed the news, especially as it would appear that the proposal has been rejected on the grounds of the visual impact such a windfarm would have on the landscape.
“I have long opposed this proposal for a windfarm at Rossie as I did the proposed wind turbines on Clatto Hill.
“Wind turbines obviously have a role in Scotland’s future energy equation, but they must be carefully sited and should not be allowed to affect areas of outstanding natural beauty like North East Fife. I pay tribute to all who fought this proposal.
“Common sense prevailed at Clatto, common sense has now prevailed at Rossie. Let us hope that it will also prevail at Ceres.’
Miles Briggs, the Conservative Westminster candidate for North East Fife, said the decision is a victory for local community campaigners.
21 February 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding