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Farmer faces fight over buy-out of his land

An Angus farmer may have to take on Scotland’s largest off-shore windfirm, over the compulsory purchase of his land.

Guthrie Batchelor is one of a group of local landowners who could potentially be affected by plans from Seagreen Wind Energy, to position hundreds of turbines off the east coast.

During a public presentation to Arbroath Community Council, officers from the firm explained they were looking at two possible routes to bring power cables on shore – one near Arbroath and the other near Carnoustie.

From the coast, a 30 metre-wide cable track would be laid underground cutting across a 20km stretch of Angus countryside, across the A92 and the east coast railway line, to a sub station at Tealing.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Batchelor, who owns the fields from Arbroath Golf Course to Salmonds Muir, voiced concerns over possible damage to the land and potential crop losses should the proposal go ahead.

He said: “They are talking about a 30 metre-wide section that is going to be cut through the land.

“From previous experience that could mean crops losses of 25 to 30% over the 30 years the windfarm would be there, because once the land has been dug up it is never the same again.

“I have had other pipes put through before and it is just not worth the hassle.”

Mr Batchelor said Seagreen were offering a “percable” amount to use his land, should the Arbroath site be chosen as the landfall point for the cable.

To date he has had limited meetings with the companie’s solicitors, but letters received have made it clear that compulsory purchase is an option, should he refuse to sell.

Mr Batchelor also owns the land upon which on-shore windfarm developer West Coast Energy propose to build a separate development midway between Carnoustie and Arbroath, although that wouldn’t involve the same level of disruption.

He said some local landowners had come together to take on the services of Strutt & Parker, who will carry out negotiations with Seagreen on their behalf.

The huge development will have three phases, with the first stage alone set to see 150 turbines, each up to 190 metres tall, positioned between 23km and 80km directly east of Arbroath.

A power output of 1GW will be generated by phase one of the windfarm, with phases two and three requiring different on- shore connection points.

The National Grid dictates where the firm can plug into the country’s electricity supply and Seagreen plan to construct a new building adjacent to the existing station at Tealing, to convert the energy for use in the network.

Seagreen communications manager Chris Bell said the project could boost the local economy.

He added: “We were awarded the zone by the crown estate, we are the largest zone in Scotland and we are Scotland’s largest renewable energy project.

“With a project this size there is potential for benefit to come to the local economy.

“We are hoping a number of businesses in the local area and further afield will benefit from the development.”

“Seagreen Wind Energy are engaging with a number of landowners along our proposed onshore cable route. We are working to come to mutually agreeable leasing terms taking consideration of current standard industry levels.

“We fully expect that all land leased, other than a nine-metre wide cable strip, can continue to be used for all agricultural purposes after we carry out planned re-instatement.”

Seagreen plan to submit a planning application to Angus Council by August this year.

Each turbine would have a lifespan of around 25 years, after which they would be replaced or decommissioned.

Although a 500m-wide area will be taken into consideration when locating the cable pipeline, the actual width of the ground being dug up with be within 30 metres.

A series of public exhibitions will be held to explain the details of the plans from May 14 to 18, in Montrose, Arbroath, Carnoustie, Dundee and Tealing.