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Council throws out Fife windfarm plans  

Credit:  By Aileen Robertson, The Courier & Advertiser, 21 March 2012 ~~

Clatto Hill windfarm proposals were yesterday thrown out by Fife Council’s planning committee.

West Coast Energy and Green Cat Renewables failed in their bids to install five and three turbines respectively near Coaltown of Burn turk, south-east of Kingskettle.

Councillors rejected both proposals by eight votes to three.

It is now possible the developers will lodge an appeal.

West Coast Energy has stated it intends to “actively consider a positive way forward”, however it is not known if this will be an appeal or resubmitted plans. Clatto Hill Protection Group, meanwhile, praised councillors for “protecting local communities and valued Fife landscapes”.

ANTI-WINDFARM campaigners are celebrating after controversial Fife windfarm developments were thrown out.

However, their fight is not over, with west Coast Energy already having indicated it may appeal Fife Council planning committee’s decision to refuse its proposal for five turbines at Devon Wood, near Kingskettle.

A total of eight turbines were proposed around the Fife beauty spot Clatto Hill.

Green Cat Renewables had hoped to install three on an adjacent site at Clatto Farm, but were also unsuccessful.

At Kirkcaldy Town House yesterday, two identical shows of hands saw the proposals rejected by eight votes to three.

Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) said it was “delighted” with the decision but acknowledged the developers could lodge appeals.

Should either, or both, of the developers successfully challenge the council decision, the local authority could face a substantial compensation bill.

Greg Brown, who chairs CLPG, said: “We know that the applicants have the right of appeal to the Scottish Government. But we hope that the applicants will have the good grace to reflect on the views of councillors on three different council committees and accept the democratic decisions now taken.

“They should know, however, that we will fight on to defeat any appeal they may have.”

Councillor Ron Caird moved refusal on both occasions. Each, he said, would fail to comply with planning policies because of scale, lack of positive contribution, need to protect open space and opportunities for recreation, visual impact and landscape character issues.

He said the Devon wood proposal would, in addition, distract drivers and impact on road safety.

“Suffice to say I consider this and other applications to be the thin edge of a very thick wedge, which will culminate in the rape of Fife’s beauty,” he said.

Provost Frances Melville highlighted the fact that among north-east Fife and Levenmouth area committees, all but two councillors had raised concerns about the windfarm proposals.

Planning committee councillors were shown slides indicating how the turbines would look.

“Every single one of those slides showed these turbines as being extremely prominent on the landscape,” said Councillor Ron Edwards.

Planning lead officer Chris Smith said Hill of tarv it was “suitably distant” from the sites to avoid a recommendation for refusal.

Council planning officers had recommended approval of the Devon Wood and Clatto Farm developments, subject to 60 and 55 conditions respectively.

Among the conditions was that, before any works started on site, a Radar Mitigation Scheme to prevent conflict with air traffic control at RAF Leuchars was to be submitted to the council in consultation with the Ministry of Defence.

Committee chairman John Beare backed both of the proposals for approval, with councillors Jim Burke and David Mogg also voting in favour of the turbines.

Steve Salt, planning and development director for West Coast Energy, said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision from the strategic planning committee to refuse our application for the Devon Wood wind farm, despite the positive recommendation to approve from council officers, which was based on local and national policy.

“We do however remain committed to investing in the renewable energy sector in Fife, despite this decision. We will now look to actively consider a positive way forward for the proposals, which we believe would bring many benefits to the local communities that host it, and Fife as a whole.”

Source:  By Aileen Robertson, The Courier & Advertiser, 21 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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