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Protest fail to block Methil turbine

Angry scenes greeted approval last week of the 81-metre wind turbine for Methil Docks.

“Shame on you”, “hypocrites” and “scum” were some of the insults lobbed by residents at the Levenmouth councillors who approved Scottish Enterprise Fife’s application.

It was agreed by five votes to two on Wednesday by Fife Council’s Levenmouth area committee, despite nearly 340 objections.

Protesters claimed the turbine would cause noise and shadow flicker, affect their view and damage tourism, amid many other concerns.

However, it was said the turbine, which will provide some power to the hydrogen office and demonstration centre at the docks, was necessary for Levenmouth’s broader regeneration.

Permission was granted for 25 years, after which the single turbine will have to be dismantled and the ground refurbished to its original state.

Bolted on to the agreement were strict conditions, including a ruling that the turbine must be shut down if agreed noise levels were exceeded – and removed entirely if it fails to deliver electricity for a continuous period of six months.

The applicant will also have to report back to the council on noise, complaints and other statistics.

Lead planning officer Elspeth Cook said the project clearly related to a renewal and regeneration project for Methil’s dockland area.

“It is associated with the energy industry which traditionally uses coastal locations and it is clearly within an area of developed coastline,” she added.

Ms Cook said the council was satisfied with the results of assessments relating to noise, shadow flicker and telecommunication signals, while the turbine could be moved to the site “without increased problems to the road network”.

Councillor Andrew Rodger said it should go in a rural area or the energy park, especially since £750,000 had been spent on a road there.

“Alternatives are there and should be used,” he added. “I am not prepared to take a gamble on behalf of the community regarding the siting.

“I want to see jobs, but in a constructive way. The Energy Park should be the place and it is not going there, so I oppose it.”

Cllr Marilyn Whitehead said there should have been a departure hearing, so the applicant and the objectors could “have their day in court”.

“It would answer all people’s questions if it was away from people’s houses,” she added.

Chairman Cllr David Alexander said it should be accepted, as no one consulted by the council had protested, while many of the objections were not valid in planning terms.

Afterwards, Cllr Tom Adams said he believed most local people would see the development of the business and energy parks as “exciting projects which will hopefully bring back some long-term jobs to Lower Methil”.

He believed renewable and sustainable energy could bring jobs to the area and did not accept the reasons put against the development.

Councillors, he added, made a satisfactory visit to the Michelin site in Dundee, which had bigger turbines than that planned for Methil.

He continued: “It is vital we have faith in the products we intend to manufacture and hopefully sell to the world and it would have sent completely the wrong message to reject this application.

“I also believe moving it to another location would have caused delays and added costs which may have rendered the whole project unachievable.

“The objectors ran a very good campaign and I hope they will appreciate the development in future in the same way the people of Dundee now view the Michelin development.”

Fife Today

24 June 2008