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'Unsafe' wind turbine statistics questioned

Statistics based on a study carried out by St Andrews University, and which centre on its controversial plans to create a wind farm close to the village of Boarhills, have been questioned.

Scotland’s oldest university has lodged a planning application to develop a six turbine, 12.3 megawatt facility on land it owns at Kenly Farm, a few miles south of the town.

But one opponent maintains that it is “unsafe” to draw any conclusions about support or otherwise for the project based on the results of a survey conducted by the university among those who attended public meetings in Boarhills and Kingsbarns which focused on the proposal.

She has expressed ‘‘serious doubts’’ about the results of the questionnaires formulated after the public discussions last year which showed that over 46 per cent of people were either supportive or strongly supportive of the planned wind farm and 48 per cent believed that Upper Kenly was an acceptable location.

It also found that 36 per cent were unsupportive or strongly unsupportive, approximately 12 per cent were neither supportive nor resistant, 60 per cent believed a community benefit scheme was a good idea and 86 per cent were in favour of Scotland’s increasing use of renewable energy technologies.

However, Sybil Scott told the Citizen: ”The statistics quoted concerning the application need to be taken with a large dose of salt.

‘‘The ‘over 46 per cent of supporters and strong supporters’ of this project is, in fact, a group of 30 people, out of 65 who filled in a questionnaire last year.”

She added that, as was reported in the Citizen at the time, despite the information then provided by the university, many questions posed by local residents remained unanswered.

She continued: ”Only recently, for example, have we been told that the preferred option is for six turbines.

‘‘I feel it is unsafe to draw any conclusions about support or otherwise for the project, as the statistics are based on such a small sample of opinion, and the survey was conducted at a time, last June, when nobody – not even the university itself – knew the full details.”

Mrs Scott, who resides in Dunino, said that her family would have “a grandstand view” across open farmland of the proposed six turbines, with the nearest around 1.9km from their property.

She added that they are also worried about noise levels, with the current legislation not covering the type of noise that seems to give the most problems – “the throbbing, pulsating beat of the turbine blades, generated as they pass the tower, often compounded by each turbine being out of sync with the others.”

Concern has also been voiced about the effect the construction traffic will have on the local roads.

Mrs Scott said: ”The B9131 is already breaking up in many places, and has lots temporary patches. We are not sure about the strength of the narrow, one lane bridge over the Dunino burn beside us and we are worried about the effect the increased traffic will have on Dunino Primary School.”

The environmental assessment has suggested that 47 HGVs per day will access the site – and presumably leave it – at the peak time, the first three months, with 20 per day in and out during the later stages of construction.

She concluded: ”These will be lorries filled with rock, aggregate, cement and all other construction materials. All the construction traffic is routed through St Andrews and this will probably also worry townspeople a great deal.”