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Council report recommends refusing GlaxoSmithKline’s turbines plan for Montrose

Two massive wind turbines proposed for the centre of an Angus community are set to be rebuffed due to ”unacceptable” visual and landscape impact.

Chemicals firm GlaxoSmithKline applied to Angus Council to put up two wind turbines – measuring up to 85 metres to hub and 132 metres to blade tip – at its Cobden Street plant in Montrose.

A report due before members of the development standards committee next week recommends refusal.

Critics of GSK’s bid to offset its plant’s energy demands with wind will see the council recommendation as a small victory. However, there are those who fear outright refusal will affect the company’s desire to stay as the town’s main employer.

Infrastructure services director Eric Lowson’s report, which will be discussed on Tuesday, takes this on board.

He states: ”I have concluded that although the proposed wind turbines would comply with some of the relevant policies and criteria in the development plan, this must be balanced against the significant adverse landscape and visual impacts identified by Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland as well as the significant adverse visual and noise impacts I have identified on residents in close proximity.”

Mr Lowson would meet representatives of the firm and offer assistance to find an alternative method of power generation, should councillors concur with his findings.

”I am very conscious that the applicant is a valued employer in the local area and I am sympathetic to GSK’s desire to increase the competitiveness of the Montrose site and reduce its carbon emissions,” he states.

”I have had regard to the commitment that the investment associated with this development would demonstrate to Montrose.

”Whilst I am unable to support this proposal for the reasons identified above I would be pleased to engage with the applicant with a view to considering alternative proposals with reduced impacts.”

The refusal recommendation boils down to three reasons:

► The proposed development would give rise to unacceptable impacts on residential property.

► It would result in unacceptable adverse landscape impacts, having regard to landscape character and setting within the immediate and wider landscape.

► It would adversely and unacceptably impact on the setting of Montrose Conservation Area and the A-listed parish church.

A public meeting in February saw some residents express fears that the company would hold the turbines as a cosh over the heads of the townspeople; that jobs would go if objectors did not acquiesce.

Only a month later, however, GSK revealed plans for a £50 million investment in the once closure-threatened site.