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Campaigners keep up windfarm fight

Campaigners against a controversial windfarm have vowed to maintain their opposition to the plan, stating a cut in the height and number of turbines would still have a major impact on the Howe of Fife.

West Coast Energy revealed this week that the number of turbines planned for Devon Wood on Clatto Hill is to be cut from seven to five.

It also confirmed the height of the turbines would also be reduced from 121 metres to 115 metres.

The firm said its decision to scale back its plans was due to feedback received from some sectors of the local community.

West Coast Energy also said it was keen to have Fife councillors determine the application which was originally lodged in July 2010.

If it does get the green light, the renewables company says it will stick to its original pledge of creating a community benefit fund which would see the Kennoway, Kettle and Star of Markinch areas net £3500 per megawatt of energy produced for each year of the windfarm’s 25-year lifespan.

That, it says, could equate to around £43,750 per year.

A community development trust has already been set up by local minister Rev. Richard Baxter to administer any funds.

It is also set to provide six financial support scholarships at Carnegie College worth £1500 each, to people living in the area keen on developing a career in the engineering and renewables industry.

West Coast Energy’s planning and development director Steve Salt said: “We are grateful to the local community for engaging and consulting with us on Devon Wood windfarm project.

“The feedback we have received has been very valuable.

“We have listened to the views of the local communities and have developed a sensitive re-working of the plans.

“We are confident we can deliver a windfarm the local community will support.”

However, Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) said it would maintain its objection to the scheme, claiming the reduction has only come about because Fife Council had expressed concern the original scheme breached planning guidance.

Spokesman Greg Brown said: “The search criteria set an upper limit of five turbines no higher than 100 metres, provided they are not placed in the most prominent parts of the landscape of Clatto Hill.

“The five turbines still continue to exceed the height guidance and they are in a very prominent location.”

“115 metre-tall turbines would not be screened by 15 metre-tall trees as claimed by West Coast Energy. They would be highly visible skyline features seen from near and far and they would still be far too close to where people live.”

Mr Brown went on to say that the group agreed with West Coast Energy’s statement that the revised scheme ‘would not change the wider pattern of visual effects’.

He said: “Clearly the council’s planners felt the original scheme was unsuitable for Clatto Hill, hence the revised scheme. But this has exactly the same flaws. This revised scheme appears to have been worked out behind closed doors between the council’s planning officials and West Coast Energy. The community were allowed no say at all in these discussions.”