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Windfarm protesters dig in for costly battle

Anti-windfarm campaigners are ready to fight an “expensive” campaign to stop turbines being built at Clatto Hill.

Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) is refusing to back down after developers behind two separate proposals at the Fife beauty spot lodged appeals with the Scottish Government.

Despite their plans being thrown out by councillors in March, West Coast Energy is determined to build seven turbines at Devon Wood near Kingskettle.

Meanwhile, Green Cat Renewables, which failed to gain approval for three turbines at an adjacent site at Clatto Farm, has also lodged an appeal.

CLPG chairman Greg Brown said: “CLPG is extremely disappointed both applicants have decided to appeal Fife Council’s decisions.

“These decisions were supported by almost all councillors in three different council committees.

“It shows scant regard for the councillors and local democracy on the part of the appellants that they now look to a government civil servant to overturn the decisions.”

Group secretary Stavros Michaelides said CLPG was trying to get hold of the original planning reports, adding: “It is a matter of real public importance.”

Mr Michaelides added: “Our campaign will be expensive. We have to employ experts to assist us.

“We don’t have the deep pockets of developers, but we will raise money within the local community to do this.”

When the West Coast Energy proposal was considered by the council, it was on the basis that five of the seven turbines in the plans would be built and the height of each would be cut from 121 to 115 metres.

This followed discussions with the council in response to local concerns.

However, the developer can only appeal its initial proposal, meaning the seven turbines at 121 metres could go ahead if a Scottish Government reporter decides to approve the windfarm.

Steve Salt, planning and development director at West Coast Energy, said: “One of Fife Council’s core ambitions is to make ‘Fife the leading green council in Scotland’.

“They have stated the ambition to create 2,000 green energy jobs in Fife by 2012.

“We believe the devon wood development would make an important contribution toward these aims and ambitions.

“We announced last September that as part of our proposals, we had entered into a £10,000 partnership with Carnegie College.

“I would like to make clear our intentions of honouring this agreement with Carnegie College if our Devon Wood proposal is granted planning consent.

“This scheme builds on the existing community benefit package we have carefully negotiated with the Devon Wood Community Liaison Forum, amounting to £61,250, assuming seven 2.5MW turbines are used per year for the entire 25-year lifespan of the wind farm.

“As with all our developments, we have made a concerted effort to bring benefit to the local communities in which our wind farm developments are situated.

“West Coast Energy remains committed to investing in the Fife economy and will work constructively with Fife Council if the appeal is successful.”