The furious windfarm row which has divided a Fife town has escalated after a neighbouring local authority waded in.
For months, residents of Newburgh have been at loggerheads over proposals to create a “community windfarm” on local land.
Now Perth and Kinross Council has entered the debate, expressing “strong concern” about the plan.
Community representatives sparked a storm of controversy after lodging plans to site three 100 metre turbines on Lindores Hill. Rival videos have appeared on YouTube and countless bitter, sometimes personal, attacks have been exchanged.
The debate has become so ugly in recent months that Fife Police warned detectives were monitoring websites and chatrooms in a bid to ensure the acrimonious row does not cross legal boundaries.
Further fuel has now been poured on the fire by council chiefs in Perth and Kinross. In a strongly worded letter to his counterparts in Fife, development quality manager Nick Brian claims the turbines would have a devastating impact on the landscape. He also warns that they would be visible across the Tay in the Carse of Gowrie.
Mr Brian notes, “The council (Perth and Kinross) was not to my knowledge formally consulted as an affected neighbouring authority following the submission of this planning application. Notwithstanding this, Perth and Kinross Council wishes to raise strong concerns about this proposal because of the nature of the development and location of the site.”
Mr Brian points out that the site lies within an area of “great landscape value.”
“There should be a strong presumption against wind turbine developments within such formally designated areas,” he said. “The medium and longer range views of the north Fife hills will, from many points, be adversely affected to a significant extent.
“The turbines will be clearly seen from a wide area to the north of Newburgh, particularly along the Tay Estuary and also from the Carse of Gowrie. They will be visible from at least five historic gardens and designated landscapes within Perth and Kinross.”
Mr Brian warned there would be “a cumulative visual impact” when viewed from the Carse of Gowrie due to the construction of the Lochelbank windfarm.
Potential difficulties on roads have also been flagged up.
“In terms of the potential impact from traffic, Perth and Kinross Council would wish to be satisfied that the impacts of construction traffic in terms of mitigation had been fully addressed and the appropriate controls/|restrictions imposed should consent be given,” he said.
Mr Brian adds that he hopes his comments will be “of assistance” when Fife Council comes to consider the highly contentious application.
Meanwhile, two local community councils – Creich and Flisk, and Abdie and Dunbog – have added their objections.
“Abdie and Dunbog community council … is particularly concerned about the negative comments made by Scottish Natural Heritage (the body warned of a substantial adverse impact on the local landscape),” chairman Tim Tobin wrote in a submission.
“We feel that, due to the scale of the project and the fact that the visual impact of the turbines will be as significant in Abdie and Dunbog as it will be in Newburgh, more extensive consultation should be carried out in our community, something that has not been done.
“We would especially request that photo montages be produced to show the effect on the small local communities of Glenduckie, Dunbog and Ayton.”
Supporters of the scheme insist it will eventually be worth £1 million a year to the town.