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Devon Wood windfarm plan sparks war of words between developer and campaign group

A row has broken out over controversial proposals for a seven-turbine windfarm in Fife.

Developer West Coast Energy has accused objectors of embarking on a ”campaign of misinformation” regarding proposals for the Devon Wood site near Kennoway.

Members of the Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) insist they have merely tried to ”bring into the open” things the firm ”would rather not have people know.”

The spat has developed following months of angry exchanges over the application. In a statement handed to The Courier, West Coast Energy officials said they wanted to address ”inaccurate and worrying” claims made by the CLPG.

Jonathan Cawley, project manager for the Devon Wood windfarm, called for an end to the sniping, insisting the ”silent majority” support the plans.

”Our proposals will provide the energy to power the equivalent annual domestic energy needs of 10,000 homes in the area,” he said. ”We are disappointed to see that the CLPG has progressed with what can only be described as a campaign of misinformation about wind energy in general, and Devon Wood windfarm in particular.

”We have also yet to understand who exactly the CLPG claim to represent, as we do not know who the members are and with whose authority it claims to speak. CLPG’s continued campaign has done nothing but undermine Fife Council’s planning process and cause distress to local residents, and for that reason we would like to call for an end to it.”

Following a series of claims by CLPG, West Coast Energy insisted a detailed environmental impact assessment had found there to be ”no significant impact” upon wildlife in the area around the windfarm. Officials also said no sites of cultural heritage interest would be ”directly impacted” by the site, and pointed out Historic Scotland does not object to the proposal.

Meanwhile, they claimed the visual impact would not be detrimental to any nationally important landscape, saying Scottish natural Heritage (SNH) has no objection. Noise levels would, West Coast Energy insists, be within accepted limits.

Representatives of the firm also said there had been no objections to their transport and highways report, with BEAR Scotland, Transport Scotland and Fife Council’s transport service all apparently happy that the windfarm would not have any adverse impact on drivers.

”We have pursued a programme of detailed interaction with the community … and we have sought at all times to provide them with factual, unbiased information to allow them to make their own views about the merits of the windfarm – whether those views are positive or not,” West Coast Energy’s statement said.

The statement also highlighted proposals for a ”community benefit” package which would see communities receiving £61,000 a year.

”Additionally, West Coast Energy has formed a partnership with Carnegie College to create up to six scholarships which will provide financial support for students studying engineering and renewables at Carnegie College,” it continued.

”The scholarship opportunities will address a need in the local communities and encourage local people to study for skills that will be needed in the renewable energy industry in Scotland in the coming years.”

In response, CLPG chairman Greg Brown said: ”Clatto Landscape Protection Group categorically refutes any attempt to misinform anyone. Rather, we have tried to bring into the open things that West Coast Energy would rather not have people know.

”For example, CLPG has highlighted the loss of amenity people living nearest would suffer if the seven turbines were built. Our acoustic expert has advised that eight households would suffer a major loss of amenity.

”CLPG has also drawn attention to the 114 homes within two kilometres of turbine locations, from most of which turbines would be clearly seen.”

Mr Brown raised a raft of other concerns, saying the CLPG is ”very concerned” that SNH has taken at face value ornithological studies submitted by West Coast Energy. He alleged that the studies were produced by a company almost wholly owned by West Coast Energy.

”We cannot see how that could be counted impartial,” he added.

Mr Brown said West Coast Energy had failed to undertake ”any serious consultation” and claimed its plans ”do not comply” with various planning policies.