We recently requested the Lochgelly Community Council minutes dating back from 2007 from Fife Council, through a Freedom of Information request. Unfortunately the earlier minutes are very brief with lengthy discussions summed up in a very short space, so it is hard to determine the activities of the Community Council and discussions/debates taking place at that time.
However in 2009, the Community Council hired a minute secretary, and at this point, the minutes contain more useful information on the work of the community council and any planned actions they agreed to take. It is during this time we have learned that (a) the Community Council knew of the noise and visual pollution risk of Little Raith Wind Farm, and (b) knew of the Benzene risk from Little Raith Wind Farm.
Unfortunately, the concern was overridden and the risk to the local community appears to have been ignored. In fact looking back through all the minutes of the meetings from 2007, any time the wind farm was mentioned, the most apparent concern was how much money Lochgelly should get.
Discussions on the health risks, noise pollution, impact on the local community are sadly missing from the minutes. Maybe these discussions took place, but if they did they have been omitted from the minutes, apart from 2 entries.
The first entry was from a meeting held in October 2008, where the Secretary A.M. Sharpe received a call & letter from West Coast Energy
A joint meeting is taking place at Cowdenbeath Chambers on 15th October at 7pm between Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Auchtertool Community Councils. Two reps from each C.C. has been requested – Chair (McPherson) & Sec. will attend. This is about the wind farm and what each community will get in the way of monies from this project. Lochgelly will be asking for 50%, after all, Cowdenbeath won’t hear anything, Auchtertool won’t see anything but Lochgelly will both see & hear Wind Farm activities.1
Even though they recognised that there will be noise pollution and a visual impact, the Community Councillors still decided to support the wind farm, regardless of the negative impacts on the Lochgelly community. However, it is still unclear whether or not the Lochgelly Community Council supported the increase of size and amount of wind turbines at Little Raith. 2
The second entry shows that the Community Council were aware of the Benzene risk from Mossmorran and Little Raith Wind Farm as stated in their minutes of meetings for the 11th March 2009;
Chairman (McPherson) said that the hold up with the wind farm at the moment seems to be SEPA and the Environmental with Fife Council. This is where it contradicts itself. The above groups are worried about the pollutants that come out of Mossmorran and the WInd Farm would spread them further afield, but the pollutants are not harmful as there are not enough of them to be harmful. Chairman has a meeting at Dunfermline on 19th March – the Safety and Liaison Committee where he will raise this point again.
SEPA and the Environmental Group seem to want to stop the wind farm for some reason.
A professor from Glasgow university came and did a survey on the wind farm and he said this would have no effect because what they say is that the turbines are not a fan – the wind drives them so it is not going to be blowing, it is going through.
Mrs E. McKenna wants Secretary (Sharp) of Lochgelly Community Council to write and ask SEPA what they are objecting to but apparently SEPA will be present on 2/4/09 and C.C. members can ask them questions directly. Results on the air monitoring will be available then as well.
Chairman (McPherson) thinks Wind Farm will be good for the Community. Mr A.F. Jarvis said we should be more interested in the health of the Community. 3
This is the most detailed entry regarding Little Raith Wind Farm that we could find in the Community Council minutes and there is a few points to be made regarding the last entry.
First of all the professor who attended the meeting was paid to conduct the research on behalf of West Coast Energy, therefore it was not an independent report, nor was it peer reviewed. It is important to note that SEPA disagreed with the results produced by the professor, but unfortunately SEPA failed to clarify to Fife Council their exact concerns with the report, therefore SEPAs objection had to be dismissed.
Apart from the lack of technical understanding on the issue, referring to Wind Farms as not being a fan, and disregarding air distribution, it is worth noting that some community councillors did want to explore the issues more. In fact we cannot see any reason why a letter shouldn’t have been written to SEPA to request further clarification.
Unfortunately this request by Community Councillor McKenna was dismissed as they can ask questions directly to SEPA, yet in later Community Council minutes, there is no information on whether or not questions were raised to SEPA, so did the Community Council raise the questions and what were the answers?
Lastly, it appears from the minutes that some of the Community Councillors wanted to put the issue of the health of the community at the front of the debate regarding the wind farm, but their concerns were overridden.
From all the other minutes we have read (up to 2010), the minutes clearly showed that the majority of discussions on the wind farm centered on the money, and how much Lochgelly should get.
Community Council Comparison
Anyone who gets the Fife Times may have seen a recent article ‘Turbine Plans on Villagers’ Agenda’ where the Crossgates Community Council is calling a public meeting after plans have been lodged for 4 Industrial Wind Turbines at a height of 125 metres (413ft), which are the exact same size of the turbines being built at Little Raith, except were getting 9 industrial turbines).
They are also being offered a ‘community benefit’ 4, but wish to discuss the issues with the local community they serve, most likely to ensure they are representing the views of the people they are elected to serve.
Unfortunately for Lochgelly, the minutes fail to give any indication that the Lochgelly Community Council sought to seek the views from local people, or even raise awareness of the issue to local people.
We would love to hear your feedback on the Lochgelly Community Council and/or Little Raith Wind Farm. Are the community council doing enough locally? Are they succeeding or failing to look after the interests of the wider community? Please let us know in the coments below, or contact us
- Lochgelly Community Council minutes received by Fife Council on 28th October 2008 ↩
- Community Council meeting for December 2011 – http://lochgelly.org.uk/2012/01/community-council-december-meeting/ ↩
- Community Council minutes for the meeting held in 11th March 2009 ↩
- ‘Windfarm firm offered bribe to keep me silent’ http://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/11/15/windfarm-firm-offered-bribe-to-keep-me-silent/ ↩
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