‘A talking point and a tourist attraction’ — GlaxoSmithKline has high hopes for Montrose renewable energy project
GlaxoSmithKline this week submitted its plans for a contentious wind turbine development in Montrose.
The pharmaceutical firm submitted its plans to Angus Council, complete with images and a 150-page environmental impact assessment.
Ahead of the formal submission, GSK showed The Courier round the initial part of the firm’s low-carbon plant, and gave a tour of where the two turbines and associated equipment would be sited.
Senior staff were keen to stress the planned work would strengthen GSK’s position in Montrose for the next 20 years.
Engineering operations manager Ian Morrow said the off-grid part of GSK’s strategy for Montrose relies on the turbines being on-site, making their movement to another area redundant.
Battery storage, for times when the turbines may not be online, requires proximity to the rest of the firm’s plant.
He also moved to quell fears of the turbines being the first of many, saying: ”These two are all that’s required and we only have brownfield space for two.”
GSK began the process with the impact assessment in September last year, specifying two turbines with a maximum height of 132 metres. Energy output has been limited to 2.5MW each, as the government’s feed-in tariff limits domestic-level additions to the grid at 5MW in total.
A public consultation was held in September and, now the application has been lodged, the council’s decision is likely to be heard next year.
Opponents have focused on the visual impact and on the effect it will have on house prices in the area. The No Way GSK website has said the project encountered trouble as it relied on external funding, but GSK has since said its operation would be wholly self-funded and not subject to government money.
While the turbines proposal is being mulled over by the council, GSK is forging ahead with plans for marine power in the South Esk.
Consent has been secured from the Crown Estate to build marine turbines either side of the bridge, which would result in 15 turbines operating for 20 hours a day, each generating 44kW.
Mr Morrow said there would be no visible churn in the water. However, the blades would be visible when motionless at low tide.
While the combined output is dwarfed by that of the proposed turbines, Mr Morrow said the energy would contribute greatly to carbon reduction efforts, and make for what he called ”an iconic symbol for Montrose.”
He said: ”I can see the turbines and the marine turbines being a talking point and a tourist attraction. I think it will become an iconic symbol for Montrose. I think it will show the world that Montrose is willing to look to the future.
”Montrose deserves at least a portion of what the renewable energy market will bring. The inventor of the turbine, James Blyth, came from Marykirk, and his first working designs were here more than a century ago.
”I think it would surprise many people to find that out. Montrose is the birthplace of wind generation.”
He added: ”We can’t do anything about the visual amenity, because turbines can’t be made transparent, but we’ve ticked so many boxes with manufacturers and added in every feature we thought would make a difference.”
Mr Morrow said these included shadow flicker mitigation controlled by a computer, which would stop the blades if it judged sunlight was being blocked from critical areas, seismic-level foundations well in advance of specifications to reduce vibration, noise dampening, heated blades to eliminate ice throw and flame-suppressing gas – the firm clearly mindful of the vivid images of a blazing turbine in recent storms.
Overall CO2 reduction would be achieved through the combined heat process (CHP) plant at Montrose that was completed earlier this year, renewable wind energy from the turbines, and marine turbine energy.
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