Campaigners have won their battle to prevent two windfarms from being built on Clatto Hill in the picturesque Howe of Fife.
West Coast Energy’s proposal for five 115 metre-tall turbines at Devon Wood and Green Cat Renewables’ plans for three 100 metre-high turbines at the adjacent Clatto Farm, have been rejected by Fife Council’s planning committee.
The applications had already been given the thumbs down by both the north east Fife area committee and the Levenmouth area committee prior to coming before members of the strategic committee on Tuesday.
The meeting, held in Kirkcaldy’s town house, was packed with members of the public, the majority of whom were members of the local anti-windfarm lobby, as well as representatives of the firms involved.
The applications had been recommended for approval by council planners, who also confirmed that West Coast Energy’s decision to reduce the number of turbines from seven to five without submitting a fresh appliation was legally valid.
During Tuesday’s discussion, Taybridgehead councillor Ron Caird – who was vociferous in his opposition to the plans at the local area committee – reiterated why he believed the turbines should not be allowed, commenting that they would “despoil the landscape” which was very close to a Special Landscape Area.
His views were echoed by St Andrews councillor Frances Melville, who said she was concerned about aviation safety and wasn’t convinced that technology used to mitigate any impact was tried and tested.
It was later said that infra-red flashing lights could be situated on the turbine’s hub to warn aircraft of its existence.
Councillor Melville also said the turbines would be isolated and conspicuous and out of character with the character of the area and stated the applications should have been subjected to special scrutiny.
She later added that she had been on the committee which discussed the original Scottish Power application – which was rejected – and did not see why the committee would approve turbines that were even higher than those in that plan.
Further concerns about the plans were expressed by central Fife councillor Ron Edwards who said slides showed how “extremely prevalent” turbines would be on the landscape across Fife including tourist hotspots East Lomond and Hill of Tarvit.
Planner Chris Smith agreed both locations were of “high sensitivity” but said they were judged to be “suitably distant” from the proposed windfarms.
Councillor Bill Kay said he was extremely concerned about the impact on wildlife and having spent a lot of time in the Clatto area, said planners’ views over badger numbers were “nonsense”.
He said: “There are few real wilderness areas left in Fife and I would need a lot of reassurance about the effect on wildlife before I could go with this.”
During the discussion on the cumulative impact of both windfarms, Howe of Fife councillor Donald Lothian said his greatest concern was the impact on residential amenity.
He said: “I agree with the thrust of what has been said about the effect on the landscape, wildlife and also distraction for motorists, but I am very concerned about the impact these turbines could have on people’s everyday lives.
“Of the 11 members of this committee, four are on the north east Fife area committee and one on the Levenmouth committee and we have all spent a considerable amount of time examining these reports before reaching very strong conclusions.
“There would be a certain perversity should this committee conclude things in a different manner.”
When the discussion on each application reached the stage for votes to be cast, committee chair John Beare voiced his approval for the projects stating the turbines were not in Special Landscape Areas and that the skyline was already broken by pylons and telepgraph poles.
In each case his motion to approve the windfarms was rejected with eight votes to three.
All north east Fife councillors on the committee voted for rejection.