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New fears over spread of pollution

Just a day after The Courier highlighted a Fife Council windfarm planning blunder, new concerns have emerged over the potential dangers of the turbines spreading pollutants to wider areas.

The Courier today publishes details of a study which suggests the turbines could push pollutants from a chemical plant towards neighbouring communities.

Airvolution Energy secured permission to build two 100-metre turbines when planners approved its application instead of referring it to Cowdenbeath area committee for approval.

Now a new academic study has stoked fear that the windfarm could disperse emissions from the Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran, jointly run by energy giants Shell and ExxonMobil, across a wider area.

The research by Glasgow University entitled Interaction of an Eulerian Flue Gas Plume with Wind Turbines warns of “an increase in the concentration of plume material (which may include pollutant gas and particulates) around the wind turbine.”

Its authors use complex equations to assess whether turbine rotor blades disperse pollutants from industrial plants.

The study, published in March, states: “The results presented in this paper show that environmental protection agencies are justified in their concerns regarding the placement of wind turbines near to industrial plants and strongly suggests that the interaction between wind turbines and gas plumes should be investigated further in order to quantify clearly the risks associated with future strategies regarding the use of land near to industrial sites.”

James Glen – whose complaint about a lack of scrutiny uncovered the error by council planners – has now called on the authority to stop authorising applications to build turbines next to Fife Ethylene Plant.

The single dad, who lives in Lochgelly with his daughter Amy Rose (4), wrote to Fife Council about Airvolution Energy’s application and received a reply which conceded that it was signed off by planners when it should have been put before the Cowdenbeath area committee.

The letter dated April 3 also revealed that councillors now have no power to rescind the planning permission, prompting the chairman of Cowdenbeath area committee to call the decision “undemocratic”.

Airvolution Energy has since submitted a second application to increase the height of the turbines to 125 metres.

Mr Glen said: “Living in close proximity to the chemical plant is already a health concern for me and my daughter. Every couple of weeks I hear about someone else suffering from cancer in the local area.

“This new report suggests turbines could increase concentration of emissions in towns and villages near the chemical plant, so I worry there could be a bigger health risk.

“There have been a number of turbines approved in the area around the chemical plant and yet this issue about dispersal of emissions has not been addressed.

“I’d like to see planners take a serious look at the Glasgow University report before approving any more turbines at Mossmorran.”

The Courier contacted Airvolution Energy and ExxonMobil Chemical for comment but both companies failed to respond.