Residents yesterday laid down battlelines in a campaign to put the blocks on a Perthshire wind farm.
Gloucestershire-based wind developer Ecotricity has insisted that an open day it held last week to reveal details of a planned four-turbine development at Tibbermore was a success – but locals have blasted that claim.
Campaigners opposed to the Newmiln Farm project five miles west of Perth have gone to Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS) – which backs community groups fighting turbine proposals – with their
CATS committee member Graham Lang yesterday described Ecotricity’s claims as “bare-faced propaganda”.
“It’s not a “wind park” with “windmills” but an industrial-scale power station with wind turbines almost 400 feet in height,” he blasted.
“It will blight properties and landscapes for miles around.
“Although the proposal has barely got off the ground, the anguish in what is a close-knit community of farmers is already self-evident.”
Mr Lang alleged that Ecotricity employees at the open day had few convincing answers to residents’ queries.
“They seemed not to know about the recent editorial in the British Medical Journal endorsing a minimum setback of two kilometres from homes to safeguard people from long-term health damage from shadow flicker and noise,” he added.
“Ecotricity peddles the standard wind industry myth that turbines don’t destroy property value.
“But any estate agent will tell you that the closer your house is to a windfarm, the harder it is to sell and the greater the loss in value.”
Local employer James England claimed there was “incomprehension and anger” among those at the event.
“How can anyone think that this – one of the most beautiful, unspoilt rolling valleys in lowland Perthshire – is the right place to site such a massive industrial installation?” he said.
Residents also have concerns about the potential effect on the economy.
Tourism operator David Smythe, of Gloag Farm Cottages, said: “Our unique selling point is our rural, unspoilt landscape.
“Industrial turbines visible for tens of miles will put off significant numbers of tourists.
“I’m afraid it will cause a lot of grief as it goes through the planning process and will end up splitting the community.”
No application for an anemometer, scoping or screening application for the wind farm has yet been received by Perth and Kinross Council planners, and Methven resident Alyson Joyce said some of the proposed windfarm’s closest neighbours had not been contacted by the developers.
“No one in the 50-house new estate at Balgowan, which is less than a kilometre from the turbines had been notified,” she declared.
“Ecotricty blamed the post office for leaving them off the list of addresses they had sent and promised to send a written apology to every householder.”
CATS recently saw off a controversial application for a wind farm at nearby Standingfauld near Muthill.
Susan Crosthwaite, its chairwoman, said: “Communities across Scotland are being targeted as soft touches by speculative wind developers and subsidy-farming landowners.
“As we can see at Newmiln, they rarely bother to do their homework.”
Ecotricity spokesperson Nick Osbourne said around 100 people attended their Methven open day.
“The drop-in session was highly constructive and we will of course incorporate residents’ comments into our ongoing assessments into the site,” he declared yesterday.
“Once we have completed those assessments, we will arrange further consultation with residents in order to keep them informed throughout the process.
“However, the analysis so far suggests that the Newmiln Farm site will be a highly successful place to harness the clean, natural power of the wind.”
If the plans are to be approved Ecotricity is pledging £9200 every year to local projects once the wind park is operational – or £230,000 over its 25-year lifespan.
“Ecotricity will continue to work on the environmental impact assessment, which will identify and assess any impacts from the proposed development on elements such as hydrology, archaeology, wildlife and bird studies, cultural heritage, noise and transport access and landscape,” Mr Osbourne added.
Founded in 1996, Ecotricity claims to power over 60,000 homes and businesses in the UK through 53 windmills.
It is a ‘not for dividend’ company with no outside shareholders.
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