A controversial plan for two 100m wind turbines which would have had an impact on air traffic control at RAF Leuchars has been rejected by Fife Council’s planning committee.
The Ministry of Defence had objected to the bid by Cupar man Gordon Pay to install the turbines at South Cassingry Farm, east of Largoward, saying it would have a “significant and detrimental” impact on their radars.
Scottish Natural Heritage had also complained, claiming Mr Pay had provided insufficient evidence that irreversible damage to protected species of geese, peregrine falcons and bats would be avoided.
A survey by Largoward and District Community Council found 78.5% of local people were against the scheme amid concern the structures would be a visual intrusion in the Cameron area, incompatible with the rural landscape setting and detrimental to residential amenity and tourism.
The application has a long and complex history.
Mr Pay appealed to the Scottish Government in March on the grounds of non-determination by north-east Fife area committee, which urged the government to refuse the plan.
That appeal was ruled invalid and returned to the council, but following legal advice it was decided that because the local area committee had previously expressed a view it should this time be considered by the strategic planning committee in Glenrothes.
However, several councillors who are members of both committees were required to leave the room during the determination, which meant the planning committee was no longer quorate.
While members voted to refuse the application, it must now be passed to next month’s full council meeting for ratification – meaning Mr Pay has one last chance to see his scheme approved.
Addressing the planning committee this week, planner Samantha Stone told members the height of the turbines meant they would be visible from Angus and the Lothians, as well as across a large part of Fife.
She added they would be seen from Elie harbour 1.7km away and the top of Largo Law 6km away.
She added: “Representations were made in relation to visual landscape and the potential impact on residential amenity.
“Formal objections were submitted by SNH regarding the potential effect of the proposal on protected species and regarding specific protection areas such as the Firth of Forth, the Tay and Cameron Reservoir.”
She said: “The MOD objected on the potential detrimental impact on the radar at RAF Leuchars.
“Additional information was required and during the course of the application further submissions were received.
“Ultimately, they are regarded as insufficient to demonstrate there would not be any adverse impact on the areas of concern.”
Asked if the MOD’S objection was still relevant given the RAF are to leave Leuchars, Ms Stone said it was, as the timescale for changes of operation at RAF Leuchars is unclear and there could still be a need for aircraft to land there.
“We would ask for a landscape and visual impact assessment,” she said.
“We felt what was submitted with this application was not an assessment. It does not assess the impact on the landscape, how it would impact on the character of the landscape and how they relate to tourism, recreation and cultural heritage. Our feeling is it is only a partial assessment in as much as information has been presented but the assessment has not been followed through.”
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