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Anti-turbine group comes out fighting

An action group fighting plans to build a windfarm at Craigievern/Ard Ghaoth has questioned recent claims made by the developers.

Endrick Valley Action Group (EVAG), which is campaigning against Banks Renewables’ proposal to build the windfarm opposite Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, refutes some of their statements in a recent article in The Milngavie and Bearsden Herald.

The company claimed they reduced the number of turbines from 20 to 10 after consulting with the public, however, EVAG spokesperson, Mary Young, said: “The real reason they reduced the number of turbines is due to planning constraints it had nothing to do with ‘engagement with people living near Ard Ghaoth’.

“Their other comment ‘we are delighted to have worked with the people living around our Ard Ghaoth site’ is untrue.

“Banks may have engaged with the landowners but they have not consulted with people who would be living within 2km of the site, and closer than that, and for whom there would be no form of recompense for loss of their amenity.

“Their claim that most people living near the site are not opposed to wind farms is not true. A published survey commissioned by Banks shows that 64 per cent in Gartmore, the village nearest the proposed site, objected to the windfarm.

“Colin Anderson, director, stated: ‘By sourcing turbines that are only slightly higher, but significantly more efficient, we can reduce the number on site, while still producing the majority of the energy.’

“However, the stated maximum capacity of the 20 turbine wind farm would have been 40 megawatts and for the revised proposal it is 25mw.

“He also said: ‘As a result of the improved efficiency, we will be able to deliver an enhanced community fund.’ I’d like him to clarify what improved efficiency has led to that enhanced community fund.”

EVAG would like Banks to state the anticipated output figures, which they argue are particularly relevant if potential community benefit figures are based on a percentage of gross revenue.

These issues were discussed at length at a recent Strathblane Community Council meeting and although the community council hasn’t decided yet if it will oppose the application, it questioned how the community benefits will be decided.

Communities near the proposed windfarm are due to receive four per cent of gross revenues and the projected £7.2m total over the 25 year life of the windfarm would be split between five communities.

Gartmore and Drymen will receive the lions share of 30 per cent each – an annual income of between £67,000 to £111,000.

Philip Graves, a member of Strathblane Community Council, said: “This amount of money is not to be sniffed at given that most community councils struggle to win a few thousand pounds a year at best from available grants.

“However, these so-called ‘bribes’ may be especially controversial in this case given their size and distribution by community.

“How should this pot be divided? Local councillors can easily be persuaded to support a local windfarm if generous community benefits have swayed the local community, despite the application arguably having negative consequences beyond the local community.

“Fortunately Ard Ghaoth is located in a very large local government constituency and the elected Stirling councillors are more likely to judge the wider impact of the windfarm.”