September 29, 2010

Turbines at every turn in Fife fear

By Claire Warrender, The Courier, 29 September 2010

Councillors concerned at the number of wind turbines springing up on the hillsides of central Fife will today be asked to give permission for another two.

Plans to build 20-metre-tall turbines at Newton Farm near Auchtertool were deferred by the Kirkcaldy area committee last month to allow members to visit the site.

Fears were expressed by some members that the council was taking a piecemeal approach which could result in turbines at every turn in the road.

The council is working on a Fife-wide policy on wind turbines and a suggestion was made that applications be deferred until it is complete.

However, the committee was warned that could lead to applicants appealing on the grounds of non-determination which could ultimately cost the local authority money.

The latest application by Stuart Milne of Barnes Farm, Aberdour, is due to come back to today’s meeting and planners have recommended it be approved.

In a report to go before councillors, planning officer Lorraine Gardiner said the proposal is considered acceptable as it meets the terms of the development plan in terms of the effect on visual amenity in the rural landscape.

Although permission has recently been granted for a single wind turbine at nearby Pitkinnie Farm, 700 metres to the south of Newton, as well as a larger commercial wind farm to the north at Little Raith, Ms Gardiner said the overall impact of the three developments would not have a negative impact on the landscape.

“This is based on the fact that the distance between each development would allow the eye to view each as separate identities within the landscape especially when viewed from short to medium distances,” she said.

“It is noted that the nearest residential properties are situated at least 350m away from the development and each secure a good standard of private setting and screening from the development area.”

The council’s environmental health service has not raised any concerns in relation to the proposal but five letters of objection have been received, including one from Auchtertool Community Council.

Speaking when the application was originally considered, local councillor George Kay said individual wind farms had begun appearing across the area.

“I have been advocating for several months now that we should have a policy because what we are seeing here is exactly what we’ll see in the whole of Fife if we’re not careful,” he said.

“I’m not against this particular application, but we can’t have them springing up like this.”

Council solicitor Mary McLean said applications would continue to be submitted while the authority was working on its new policy.

“On the map it does look as though Auchtertool is surrounded but we have to consider it in its own setting and look at the topography of the land,” she added.

Planning officer Stuart Wilson also warned, “If members continue the application on the basis they are waiting for the council catching up with published policy then the applicant could appeal on the grounds of non-determination.”

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