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FoI revelations add fuel to Newburgh wind farm row  

Credit:  By Dave Lord, The Courier, www.thecourier.co.uk 28 July 2011 ~~

The row dividing Newburgh shows no signs of abating after supporters of a controversial wind farm were accused of attempting to hoodwink the public.

The debate has become increasingly bitter and deeply personal, and now opponents of the plan to site three turbines on a hillside have accused Newburgh Community Trust of lying.

Documents obtained using freedom of information reveal Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) raised “serious concerns” about the project in April 2009 – but a maildrop by Newburgh Community Trust in May said an assessment of the proposal had not identified potential “issues or impacts.”

The letter claimed, “If approved, these turbines will generate electricity with no environmental impact. We have completed a comprehensive environmental impact assessment … which has considered, in exhaustive detail, all the possible environmental effects the turbines could have.

“During this whole process, no issues or impacts were identified.”

The trust insists all profits from the wind farm will be ploughed back into the community. However, members have been accused of employing underhand tactics after SNH confirmed it raised “significant” concerns.

A spokesman said, “We had been in discussions with the Newburgh Community Trust through their contractors … as early as March 2009, when we were contacted to provide an initial opinion at pre-application stage.

“Our response, dated April 17, 2009, advised at this very early stage that we had ‘serious concerns’ regarding the landscape and visual impacts of the proposal. On August 20 we confirmed that ‘significant concerns’ had been raised in previous discussions.”
Rivals

Rival videos supporting and opposing the community trust’s application have recently appeared on YouTube, and it would appear the latest revelations will do nothing to calm the debate.

“It is absolutely scandalous,” one resident told The Courier. “The trust knew fine well SNH had serious reservations, yet they acted as if there would be absolutely no environmental impact.”

However, Duncan Oswald, director of project contractor Ecodyn Limited, insisted it was wholly wrong to draw such conclusions.

“SNH did indeed express concern about the landscape and visual impact of the proposed community wind farm in April, 2009,” he said. “However, at that time, the proposal was for five turbines.

“This was based on the capacity of the site and the objective of the project, which was to generate all Newburgh’s energy needs sustainably, while also generating income for the community.

“In discussions with SNH in Cupar (we) took on board these concerns and agreed to reduce the scale of the project to three turbines. At that time, SNH were quite happy with this compromise.”

Mr Oswald urged anyone with concerns to register their views with the council but called for an end to “slurs and smears”.

Source:  By Dave Lord, The Courier, www.thecourier.co.uk 28 July 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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