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Clatto Hill windfarm developer says cut-down proposal is in response to community feedback

Developers behind a controversial windfarm proposal in Fife have offered to downsize the scale of the project in light of concerns from members of the public.

Following talks with Fife Council officials, West Coast Energy has submitted revised proposals which could see the windfarm planned for the southern side of Clatto Hill in Devon Wood cut from seven turbines to just five.

The company has also said it would be willing to cut the height of the proposed turbines from 121 metres to 115 metres.

The amended blueprints have been put forward after 18 months of consultation involving the renewable energy company, local people and the council, with two rounds of public exhibitions in June 2010 and January 2011 and several meetings with community councils and other community groups giving the topic a good airing.

Revealing changes to the windfarm scheme, Steve Salt, planning and development director of West Coast Energy, said the moderated proposals aimed to reflect the feedback received from some sectors of the community.

He added that the company’s offer to establish a community benefit fund, which would deliver £3,500 per MW of installed capacity, would remain intact despite the reduction in turbine numbers and height.

This community fund could provide up to £43,750 per year for the 25-year life of the project to finance numerous local projects, should the windfarm be granted planning permission.

Local minister Rev Richard Baxter has paved the way for an agreement with the communities of Kennoway, Kettle and the Star of Markinch, to set up a community development trust to administer the benefit fund.

Following news of the changes to the plans, the Clatto Landscape Protection Group – set up to try to protect the area from large-scale developments – said it will maintain its objection to the reduced scheme on the same grounds as its original objection.

It believes the reduced scheme arises from concerns expressed by the council that West Coast Energy’s original proposal breaches its planning guidance.