Proposals to create a massive wind turbine just off the Fife coast are to come under the spotlight this week when councillors consider their formal response to a consultation on the project.
Dutch firm 2B Energy wants to put up a 185-metre (600ft) offshore demonstrator turbine at the Fife Energy Park in Methil as it seeks to trial and develop potentially lucrative wind turbine technology over the coming years.
But while Fife Council admits the plan would “positively contribute” to the area’s role and reputation of being a centre of excellence in Scotland’s burgeoning renewables sector, the local authority is seeking assurances from the Scottish Government on what the turbine’s impact will be in terms of residential, visual and landscape amenity before any application is approved.
Councillors on Levenmouth’s area committee, which will meet on Wednesday to discuss the proposals, will also be keen to ensure the project will not hinder the operation or future delivery of the Fife Energy Park in any way while the turbine is in operation.
Keith Winter, head of development services, has produced a report to be submitted to Marine Scotland highlighting a number of concerns Fife Council has about the plans – and hopes the council and the Fife public will receive appropriate answers.
“The proposed council response highlights support for the general principle of the proposal and welcomes the inherent economic benefits it is likely to generate for Fife,” he said.
“However, the response also highlights specific concerns which particularly relate to factors that could have a significant negative impact on residential, visual and landscape amenity.
“The council response is requesting that these concerns be considered and addressed by the Scottish Government before reaching a decision on the proposal.”
The turbine, which will have a 120-metre tower and two 65-metre blades, would dwarf other landmarks in the area, most notably the 90-metre chimney stack at the nearby Methil Power Station which is due to be pulled down early next year.
It would be sited on a platform 20 metres into the Firth of Forth from the edge of the Energy Park’s sea wall, with a footbridge connecting the shore to the turbine for access and maintenance purposes.
2B Energy says it intends to operate the turbine 24 hours a day for up to five years, at which point it will be dismantled and removed from the site and shipped to an offshore location.
However, in its draft response to the consultation, the council has identified concerns in relation to operational noise levels – pointing out that more than 60 homes could be affected should these be higher than predicted.
Concerns are similarly likely to be raised about: the impact on marine and bird life in the Firth of Forth, the possible build-up of ice on the turbine blades in extremely cold, wet weather, the effect on residents’ television signals, shadow flicker and any impact on Fife Airport’s operations in Glenrothes.
The council’s response also seeks assurances that the operations of companies already established at the Fife Energy Park, such as Bi-Fab, will not be “negatively impacted” as a result of the development.
Levenmouth councillors will be asked to comment on Fife Council’s proposed response to the consultation on Wednesday and make recommendations to the region’s strategic planning committee before it is signed off.
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