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Second committee meeting takes scathing view of Clatto Hill windfarm proposals  

Credit:  By Aileen Robertson, The Courier, www.thecourier.co.uk 1 March 2012 ~~

A second area committee has all but rejected controversial Clatto Hill windfarm proposals.

Having gained the support of a solitary councillor at the north-east Fife committee meeting last week, the plans failed to impress Levenmouth area committee on Wednesday morning.

Plans lodged by West Coast Energy for five turbines at Devon Wood and by Green Cat Renewables for three turbines on an adjacent site at Clatto Farm have been discussed by both area committees ahead of the strategic planning committee making a decision when it next meets on March 20.

The turbines face a campaign by local residents who want to see them thrown out because of proximity to homes and the visual impact of putting 100m turbines on a hill.

Having been backed by just one councillor at the Cupar meeting, it was a similar story at Buckhaven Community Centre on Wednesday.

David Alexander was the only committee member to speak out in support of the proposed turbines, highlighting West Coast Energy’s pledge to fund renewable energy apprenticeships for up to six local young people.

He said: ”As far as I’m concerned, the planning committee should approve them – the difference being community funding. Six apprenticeships are worth the view from my house – giving six young people a job in the current climate.”

Mr Alexander also warned colleagues of the potential cost to Fife Council should the developer launch an appeal.

He said: ”I think, without any shadow of a doubt, if the planning committee throw this out we will lose the appeal and will have a claim for a whole lot of money against us.”

Andrew Rodger suggested the apprenticeships were ”red herrings”.

He said: ”These things have been put in but they have nothing to do with a planning issue. That really concerns me. Why put them in if they have nothing to do with a planning issue?”

Meanwhile, Tom Adams said it was a ”no-brainer”. He said: ”Lets get the offshore ones up before we start doing this.”

The applications were considered separately, but similar issues were discussed in relation to both.

Marilyn Whitehead said more consideration should have been given to the cumulative impact of both proposals, raising the issues of noise and visual impact.

She said: ”The combined effect of two applications will be considerably more significant.”

She added: ”If this application goes ahead, people’s lives will be ruined. The whole sense of the place, of north-east Fife and central Fife, will be finished.”

Ms Whitehead asked if lights would be required on the turbines for aviation reasons and planning lead officer Chris Smith confirmed they would be fitted with red lights, flashing around once a second.

Alistair Hunter said he could not support the proposals because of ”inconsistencies” in the planning reports.

He said: ”I’m struggling to make a decision based on such subjective factors.”

Clarification was sought on the Devon Wood proposal.

West Coast Energy initially applied for permission for seven turbines at 121m high but scaled this down to five turbines at 115m.

Mr Smith confirmed that although it had been agreed in writing that the five-turbine option would be a condition of consent, the developer could still appeal this condition.

Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) welcomed the views of councillors.

Spokesman Greg Brown said: ”Councillors have shown how much they care about the Fife we know today and want for the future. CLPG is not surprised that some councillor comment questioned the consistency and objectivity of the case reports from the planning service. We share these concerns. So much so, that our group will be lodging an official complaint about the planning reports.”

Source:  By Aileen Robertson, The Courier, www.thecourier.co.uk 1 March 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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