Levenmouth councillors have cautiously backed plans for a huge wind turbine off the Fife coastline.
Visible from East Lothian and the peak of East Lomond in Fife, the turbine will not only be a major landmark, but will also mark a major step forward for Methil’s Energy Park Fife.
The energy park is poised to take on manufacturing and maintenance work for Scotland’s growing renewables sector, raising hopes the area could be in line for a major jobs boost.
Levenmouth area committee supported the proposal for Dutch firm 2B Energy to install a 185m, two-blade turbine just off the coast at Methil to trial offshore technology, on condition it remained there for no longer than five years and some benefits for the community were negotiated.
Because of the scale of the development, whether it goes ahead or not will be the decision of the Scottish Government.
Fife Council’s head of development services, Keith Winter, has drawn up a response to the government’s consultation on the proposal.
Despite concerns being raised about the visual impact of the turbine and the fact it would be just 20 metres from land, area committee chairman David Alexander highlighted the potential economic benefits offshore technology could bring to the area.
“It’s a demonstration for new technology and people will come to look at it – people with bulging wallets,” he said. “This is potentially enormous for us. We are very excited about the potential jobs in Methil that this could bring.”
However, he conceded, “We don’t have to be united on this one.”
During Wednesday’s meeting at Carberry House in Leven, it was debated that the turbine was not necessarily “offshore” because of its proximity to land and the fact it would be connected to the shore by a footbridge.
Council planner Michael Westwater explained that because it was a test turbine, engineers would need to be able to access it 24 hours a day, and that would not be possible if it was further away from the shoreline.
Councillor Andrew Rodger said Levenmouth residents were being treated like guinea pigs and claimed promises of offshore jobs were “pie in the sky.”
He said the local community had been clamouring for the old power station to be pulled down for the last 20 years, and now that was set to go next year they were being asked to live with a massive turbine.
“I’m all for renewable energy, but let’s do it in a positive way,” he said. “What would happen if this was put up in St Andrews on the shoreline? They would tell you where to go.”
Councillor Marilyn Whitehead argued that if the company operating the turbine was benefiting from cash incentives to produce renewable energy, the community should see some of the benefit, given the visual impact and noise.
“It is very inventive to say this is offshore,” she said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable for us to ask for some sort of community benefit.”
Suggesting the majority of the public would not even notice the structure, Councillor Tom Adams warned against a “frenzy” of turbine bashing.
“This has the potential to give us a 1000 jobs in the area that are badly needed,” he said.
Mr Alexander urged the committee to support the council’s consultation response with the additional conditions added and the matter was agreed.
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