Developers must now reconsider “opportunistic and ill-thought out” windfarm applications, according to campaigners delighted that plans for five turbines near Auchtermuchty have been blown away.
Scotish Government reporter David Gordon this week dismissed EnergieKontor’s appeal and refused planning permission for a windfarm at Rossie, saying the project would be contrary to Fife Council’s development plan.
The news has been greeted with elation by Auchtermuchty residents and community groups who have been opposing the windfarm for more than 18 months.
EnergieKontor general manager Judith Cornfield declined to comment on the decision at this stage.
In his findings, Mr Gordon said some important adverse impacts relating particularly to landscape and visual issues as well as noise had not been satisfactorily addressed.
He noted the proposal received more than 400 objections, most raising relevant planning matters, and added: “I attach significant weight to those expressions of local concern”.
EnergieKontor lodged its application for Rossie in June 2006, but last year appealed to the then Scottish Executive because Fife Council had not decided on the issue.
The council’s planning committee later voted to refuse the windfarm, a position the council argued at the public inquiry held in Auchtermuchty last month.
Howe of Fife councillor Donald Lothian, who last year urged his fellow planning committee members to add landscape issues to the list of objections, expressed his delight at the outcome.
“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,” he said.
Welcoming the decision, David White, chair of Auchtermuchty Landscape and Environment Group (ALE), said: “I always believed it was the wrong place to build a windfarm and I hope this will be a message to all other developers.”
North East Fife MSP, Iain Smith, said the application had always been surrounded by serious planning issues and he regretted EnergieKontor’s decision to appeal, which pre-empted proper local consideration of the proposal.
“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.
Auchtermuchty and Strathmiglo Community Council chair David Cowling said: “The outcome of this appeal must, in our view, make windfarm operators now think twice about opportunistic, and ill thought out, applications for industrial windfarms in sensitive landscape situations in close proximity to communities.
“The community council has been delighted to support the people of Auchtermuchty in their determination to resist this ‘raid’ upon their community.”
Auchtermuchty Community Association chair Andy Heer described the outcome as “a victory for common sense”.
He said a moratorium should be placed on all windfarm applications while the government considered their impact on local communities and produced a viable renewable energy policy.
By Janet Howie
21 February 2008
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