Construction of what would be the first community-owned wind farm in the east of Scotland has been given a blast of cool air by Scotland’s heritage guardian.
A local trust plans to install three 100-metre tall turbines on a hill near Newburgh, in a scheme that will eventually generate £1 million a year for the town.
However, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has warned the massive structures will damage the landscape.
In a letter to the local authority, SNH operations officer for east Fife, Gavin Johnson, says the wind farm will “dominate” small Lindores Hill on which it will sit and views from Newburgh.
It would appear to “topple over” the skyline, he said, and affect the setting of local landmark the Newburgh Bear, the outline of a bear and staff cut into a hill near the town.
It will also be a prominent sight for passengers on the Edinburgh to Perth railway line.
Mr Johnson said, “The proposed development as it stands will have adverse impacts on the landscape character and on views and visual amenity at local level.
“The turbines would completely dominate the hill and local views, and appear too large in the local landscape context.”
He advises that if the project is to go ahead, shorter turbines should be installed.
Newburgh Community Trust hopes to begin construction at Braeside of Lindores Farm next year.
The trust has been working on the proposal, which it said was well-supported locally, for some time.
It is estimated the turbines will generate £250,000 a year for the first 15 years to be spent in the community, and £1 million a year once costs are covered.
They would also be capable of powering 4000 homes and save almost 7800 tons of carbon dioxide a year.
The trust’s planning application has received a mixture of objection and support from members of the public.
Chairman, Councillor Andrew Arbuckle, said the trust had been working with SNH over the last year.
He said, “Newburgh Community Trust has carried out a year-long, comprehensive assessment of the impact on the environment.
“I know there is concern about the impact on the hill but those who live in Newburgh will be aware that the hill behind is strung over with dozens of pylons.
“It is really up to the local residents to say whether they support the application or not.”
Mr Arbuckle also rejected a claim in a reader’s letter published in The Courier on Monday that there had been no public consultation.
He said, “There has been a number of open days, and prior to each of these a letter has gone out to every household in the area.
“In the last week every household has also received a letter inviting them to give their views for or against the application.”
It was too early, he said, to say what income generated would be spent on.
Mr Arbuckle also leads the council committee that will determine the planning application, but intends to abstain from discussions and the vote.