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Fife pleads for ‘space’ to consider windfarm policy  

Credit:  By Michael Alexander | The Courier | www.thecourier.co.uk 25 June 2012 ~~

The leader of Fife Council has called on the Scottish Government to give the local authority ”space” so it can implement a temporary halt on windfarm applications.

Councils across Scotland have been told to open up more land for windfarm developments to help the SNP meet renewable energy targets.

In a letter from local government minister Derek Mackay and energy minister Fergus Ewing, councils have been told to create ”spatial frameworks” for wind turbines.

This would provide windfarm companies with a list of sites across the country to target for preferred development.

But there are concerns that councils are being inundated by windfarm planning applications across Scotland.

In the letter, the SNP said they would be providing around £300,000 to help under-pressure council planning departments cope with the predicted deluge of applications.

Two councils – Aberdeenshire and Fife – have already called for a moratorium on windfarm applications, pointing out that planning bosses are unable to cope with the sheer scale of them.

Fife Council leader Alex Rowley said he will write to Mr Mackay to explore the possibility of a moratorium on considering applications until a policy review has been completed.

He told The Courier:”We’ve got to get this right. As an administration we are not anti-wind turbines. But we do believe they are large industrial structures and we have to get a proper strategic framework in place which takes on the concerns of communities in Fife.

”This is a massive issue and we want to consult with people in Fife on what they want. We hope the Scottish Government will be receptive to our desire for a moratorium.”

Mr Rowley, who made a moratorium one of Fife Labour’s pre-election pledges, has claimed developers are ignoring Fife Council guidelines on approved sites and swamping planners with ”opportunistic” applications.

He is concerned about pressure on planners from the sheer number of wind turbine applications being submitted across all parts of Fife.

The planning service has already pinpointed areas where turbines might be sited. However, Mr Rowley says developers are ignoring these when making applications which, in turn, is making life more complex for Fife’s planning teams.

Now, in a report to the Fife Council executive committee, which meets in Glenrothes on Thursday, the council’s intentions are spelled out as it also considers increasing fees for planning applications for onshore wind.

Planning chief Keith Winter says in his report: ”It is important to ensure the opportunity for widespread public involvement in the public consultation.

”Fife Council intends to have an online portal, as well as drop-in sessions for the public to attend in each of the seven area committee areas. This follows the effective and good practice established in the recent local plan consultations.”

He said the leader of the administration will write to the Mr Mackay, to ”explore the possibility” of a moratorium.

Source:  By Michael Alexander | The Courier | www.thecourier.co.uk 25 June 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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