A would-be wind farm developer has taken a swipe at Fife Council and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), accusing them of being antagonistic towards Scottish Government policy.
Gordon Pay wants to install two 100-metre tall turbines near Largoward, but has taken his plans to the government after waiting in vain for more than two years for a decision on planning permission from the local authority.
He said neither the council’s nor SNH’s approach had been models of best practice and that the corporate response of both had “simply been bad.”
He warned that if community wind farm schemes, such as that proposed at Newburgh, were treated in a similar fashion, public money would be wasted.
The Scottish Government has a target of reducing emissions by 42% by 2020 and introduced new planning policy last year aimed at speeding up the decision-making process.
In a letter to the government’s directorate of planning and environment appeals, Mr Pay said, “The corporate response of both SNH and Fife has been antagonistic to the Scottish Government’s wider policy as well as its planning policy.
“That is a serious issue.”
Mr Pay claimed he had originally lodged his plans for a site at South Cassingray Farm with Fife Council in November 2008, but they were not validated until July last year.
Money he had put aside should have been more than sufficient for the project, he said, but the “corporate attitude” of the council and SNH, which has been involved in discussions about the planning application, had used all the risk capital.
Waste of public money
He added, “If this same approach is taken to community groups funded by scarce public resources, such as the more than £250,000 given to the Newburgh project, then this will simply waste public resources and could significantly set back what are the aims of Scottish Government policy.”
Given the lack of a timescale for determination and that he reckons the scheme would have to be referred to the Scottish Government anyway, Mr Pay said lodging an appeal was the reasonable option.
Development services manager for the council, Alastair Hamilton, defended the response to the plan, which has received objections from two community councils and MoD’s Defence Estates as well as SNH.
He said, “When statutory consultees object to an application, in cases like this, we will always work with the objectors and the applicant to try to resolve the issues.
“More complex issues require further investigation and additional information from the parties involved, which all takes time. This is often the case with wind turbine proposals.
“We have processed this application in line with standard guidelines and set procedures.”
SNH’s east Fife area officer David Shepherd added, “Although we understand the planning process can sometimes be long and frustrating for applicants, we think it’s crucial that the impacts of wind farms are understood completely so local councils can make informed and balanced decisions.
“Therefore, we’re very keen for all the appropriate surveys to take place, and what’s needed varies case by case, depending on the area and many other factors.
“We’d like to be clear that we’re not saying that Mr Pay’s proposed wind farm is in an inappropriate place, but just that we need more information to fully assess its impact on landscape and wildlife and in particular, pink-footed geese.”
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