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St Andrews University's wind farm proposals split local opinion

Proposals by St Andrews University to tackle spiralling energy bills through the construction of a wind farm have split public opinion.

While many believe cash raised will help the institution to continue its delivery of first-class education, some residents still require to be convinced.

Some fear the development will create a blight on the landscape, and others warn house prices will be adversely affected.

Officials at the university insist action is required to tackle soaring energy bills, saying they have tripled since 2005 and now top £5.4 million a year.

They hope a six-turbine, 12-megawatt wind farm on land at Kenly Farm, near Boarhills, will provide not only energy for the national grid but also a steady income.

The local community has also been promised a share of the potentially lucrative benefits. But a recent survey has shown that support for the application is far from overwhelming.

“A survey carried out among attendees at public meetings in Boarhills and Kingsbarns reported that 46% of people were in favour of the planned development,” a statement released by the university notes.

The survey also revealed that approximately 36% of respondents were “unsupportive” or “strongly unsupportive” of the proposals.

Meanwhile, 60% described a community benefit fund as a “good idea” while 86% were in favour of Scotland’s increasing use of renewable energy technologies.

The university’s application comes just a week after it was praised for its commitment to a green agenda. The institution emerged from a national investigation as the leading public-sector body in the UK in 2010/2011 for the value of projects designed to save energy and cut carbon emissions.

Figures from Salix Finance, an offshoot of the Carbon Trust, noted that the university had undertaken 111 green projects, committing over £1.9 million to a variety of initiatives.

Over their lifetime, these schemes will save 7700 tonnes of CO2.

The work carried out by the university was described as an “exemplary achievement” by Salix.

A full planning application for the wind farm, along with an environmental impact assessment, has been lodged with Fife Council.

Meanwhile, an information display about the Kenly proposal will be staged at Boarhills village hall on June 14, 4pm-6pm, and at Kingsbarns memorial hall the next day, 4-6pm.

The full environmental impact assessment is available to the public in the Bute Building reference room, St Andrews, from 9am to 5pm.