The siting of wind turbines at GlaxoSmithKline’s factory could set a precedent for the south of Montrose, it was claimed this week.
Ian Paton, spokesman for the No Way GSK action group opposed to the £8 million project, also challenged the safety aspects of placing the two 426-feet high towers so close to a chemical plant.
He voiced his concerns after a photograph of a wind turbine at Ardrossan, Ayrshire, on fire during the recent storms hit the national press.
The incident was dismissed as a “freak occurrence” by energy experts, and GSK has pointed out that the turbines proposed for Montrose would have a sophisticated four-stage detection system to tackle fires, including a suppressant gas to extinguish any outbreak. The company has also said the proposed sites for the turbines have been fully risk-assessed.
But Mr Paton said the Ardrossan fire demonstrates that there is still a risk.
He said: “It is all very well for GSK’s project engineer to tell us that computers will provide a four-stage fire protection system. We all know how reliable computers are don’t we? Is this meant to reassure us that the numbers of wind turbine fires and catastrophic accidents from elsewhere in Scotland and around the world cannot happen in Montrose?
“If such a fire led on to a total turbine collapse and 426 feet of tower collapsed into the chemical plant below, can you imagine the mayhem? What on earth is flowing through that tangle of pipes and what is contained in these large storage tanks dotted all around?
“God forbid, but it would be interesting to hear Angus Council’s defence of not following the Scottish Government’s guideline of a minimum separation distance of two kilometres between turbines and other buildings. It is interesting to note here that if the guideline were adopted, there could be no turbines erected closer to GSK than halfway across the Basin or beyond Usan.”
At its last meeting, Ferryden Community Council agreed to write to the local authority asking if implementation of the two kilometre guideline could be investigated.
A council spokeswoman said that the authority does have criteria against which renewable energy proposals are assessed.
She said: “The council has policies on renewable energy and wind turbine development in both the Dundee and Angus Structure Plan 2002 and in the Angus Local Plan Review 2009. These provide detailed policy tests against which all relevant planning applications are assessed.”
Mr Paton said that Montrose risks becoming the “turbine town of Angus” if the proposal, which GSK hopes will cut its carbon footprint by around 75 per cent, goes ahead.
He said: “This proposal could very easily be a kind of ‘loss leader’ for the green industry. If GSK succeed with this application, The Master Plan for South Montrose could sprout a rash of towers within the town boundary making Montrose the ‘Turbine Town’ of Angus. Is this what the people of Montrose want?
“You really cannot blame GSK for taking advantage of the fact that Angus Council are not disposed to implement the government’s two kilometre guideline; they see the chance to make money, or save money, which is entirely honourable, but what is not honourable is when you do it and other people pay the price.”
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