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Second wind farm planned for West Fife

Proposals for a wind farm to be built near Saline have been met with concern by local councillors – but residents say they’ll defer judgment until next week.

ABO Wind UK Ltd, based in East Calder, has applied for planning permission to erect a temporary 50m-high wind monitoring mast at Easter Muirhead Farm, about 2km from Saline, with a view to finding the most suitable design for a wind farm on the site.

ABO’s senior project manager, Jenny Walsh, stressed that although a wind farm was planned for the site, details of the project had yet to be confirmed.

She said, “We don’t have permission to do anything at the moment. We’ve submitted a planning application to put up a 50m mast and are just beginning an environmental impact assessment, which takes months and months.

“We’ll submit the planning application for a wind farm later in the year. At the moment we’re looking at a seven-turbine wind farm but the project is really in its initial stages.”

Ms Walsh could not comment on the cost of the wind farm, but said it would be built on a 1km sq site.

She added that ABO already had an option of leasing the site from the landowner, whom she declined to name.

Ms Walsh said the site was chosen because it was outwith the areas of great landscape value and outside any constraints from the Ministry of Defence and the National Air Traffic Service.

She underlined that the main concern would be finding the right turbine layout, height and dimensions.

She said, “Work would be years away – but if everything went according to plan, we’d be hoping to construct roughly around 2011.

“Turbine layout won’t be determined until we’ve done all the baseline assessments. We’ve got to make sure that the turbines won’t be too noisy and affect residential property.

“We’re trying to let people know what we’re doing so they can have some involvement and we can get feedback. We still need to get planning permission for it.”

Saline residents say they will assess the plans when they meet with ABO next week.

James Hensman, chair of Saline and Steelend Community Council, said, “We’ve got a meeting with them on 29th April at the community centre at 8pm. We can’t comment until we let them do their presentation.”

Claire Cuthbertson (34), on whose land the proposed wind farm could be built, thought it was “quite a good idea”.

Mrs Cuthbertson, of West Saline and Thorneyhill Farms, said, “I quite like them but it depends on whether it’s good for everybody. Some people like them and some don’t. It could be an opportunity to put Saline on the map but it’s up to the people in the community.

“I’m pretty pleased with ABO because they’re getting involved with the community straight away – there’s been no cloak-and-dagger stuff.

“They’ve said it’s an ideal area, not on the main road and there’ll be no disruptions. But we’ll wait until the presentation to see what people will say.”

However, West Fife villages councillor Gerry McMullan said he had already been contacted by residents “concerned about blighting the landscape of Fife with these wind farms”.

The Lib Dem councillor said, “I’m in favour of wind farms per se; however, Fife has some wonderful natural scenery and the idea that we dump these wind farms in beautiful areas is unacceptable.

“You have to look at proposals for wind farms, but at the same time, you do not dump them in areas of natural beauty or where they could be detrimental to the lives of residents.

“It’s all very well talking about green issues, but at what cost to the quality of life of the residents of Saline and Steelend? It’s a fine balance.”

SNP councillor Bill Walker concurred, saying that “wind farms do not really add to the question of generating reliable electricity”.

He said, “The whole concept of wind farms doesn’t make economic sense and environmentally, it’s a complete mess.

“The problem with wind farms is that they only generate electricity when the wind blows, and you cannot plan that. If you have a large wind farm generating in theory many megawatts of electricity, then you need back-up for when it’s not working.”

He added, “The UK Government is trying to get more people to do more renewable and green energy, but everything which is green is not necessarily good.”

It would not be the first wind farm for Fife – councillors rubberstamped an application by Fife Wind Energy last year to build nine 100m-high wind turbine generators at Little Raith near Mossmorran.

Work at Little Raith is expected to begin this spring and could bring a windfall of between £540,000 and £730,000 to villages in the area, such as Crossgates, under a community trust fund which is part of the project.

Residents who are interested to know more about the Saline project are being urged to contact Jenny Walsh at walsh.jenny@abo-wind.com or 0800 0665631.

By Siew Peng Lee

Dunfermline Press

24 April 2008