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Wind firm wants talks on turbines

A windfarm developer has gone on a massive charm offensive to try and convince people living near proposed turbines how they can benefit their local area.

Dodd Hill Windfarm developer West Coast Energy began a leafleting and doorstep discussion campaign yesterday in the Inverarity, Murroes andWellbank and Tealing areas.

The talks with about 800 households come after the firm submitted a planning application for five turbines.

The proposed windfarm would be on farmland about two miles north-east of Tealing, six miles north of Dundee and seven miles south of Forfar.

Project manager Jonathan Cawley spoke toThe Courier about what the firm hopes to achieve by talking to local people.

“We want to try and speak to everyone in the area on a personal level, to see what their views are and explain the benefits to them,” he said.

“Not everyone in the community council areas will have been able to come to either of our exhibitions, or have come away with questions they still feel are unanswered.

“It’s certainly a large undertaking, but we want to get everyone’s views on the proposed development.”

However, a group of residents seem less than easy to convince on the issue.

A spokeswoman for objector group Against Carrot/Dodd Turbines (ACT) said the application and others like it are about making money from subsidies and not the power the turbines generate.

She said: “Our concern is the overbearing impact the giant turbines would have on the character of the landscape.

“Angus is a beautiful county and we feel proud that many visitors enjoy the peace and tranquillity of our countryside.

“But a plan to build five wind turbines, each just nine metres smaller than the London Eye threatens all that.

“None of us are against renewable energy, but surely it would be so much better for the countryside for us to get grants so we can afford to get small-scale wind turbines or solar panels on our own houses to help generate electricity.”

Over the past six months the renewable energy company has been talking to local communities about its plans, including public consultation events.

The exhibitions gave local residents an opportunity to learn about the proposals for Dodd Hill Windfarm and to give their views on the project.

West Coast Energy has also attended meetings of the Inverarity, Murroes and Wellbank and Tealing community councils and presented the details of the proposals to their members.

The company has offered those areas entry into a community benefit forum and a 10% profit sharing arrangement.

They would receive about £3 million to distribute to local schemes.

Former Angus Council chief executive David Sawyers has offered to become the forum’s independent chairman after taking charge of the benefit forum at West Coast Energy’s other Angus project, Corse Hill.

The firm’s planning and development director Steve Salt said: “West Coast Energy are pleased to announce that an application has been submitted to Angus Council for a five-turbine windfarm at Dodd Hill, which, alongside our application at Corse Hill, represents another potentially significant investment in the Angus economy.

“It is encouraging the communities surrounding the planned Dodd Hill Windfarm have decided they would like to proceed with setting up their own independent community benefit forum.

“This will allow them to decide how any potential community benefit resulting from the windfarm can be put to best use, should the wind farm receive planning consent.

“Over the coming weeks we will be working closely alongside Inverarity, Murroes and Wellbank and Tealing community councils to help identify a suitable independent chairperson and to establish a community benefit forum at the earliest opportunity.”