The future of the GlaxoSmithKline factory in Montrose has been left unclear after the company was refused planning permission for two wind turbines.
Angus Council’s development standards committee voted 9-2 in favour of refusing the worldwide pharmaceutical giant permission to build the turbines, stating that it would have a negative impact on the landscape, environment and skyline of the town.
The 2.5MW machines would have measured up to 85 metres in height to the hub, with a maximum height to blade tip of 132m. They would have been almost twice the size of the church spire in the town, Montrose’s most prominent feature.
The company had said that the turbines would help retain the plant as a local employer, reduce CO2 levels at the site, assist in the economic regeneration of Montrose and offer an environmentally friendly way to generate power.
However, Tuesday’s decision to refuse GSK permission raises questions over the future of the site after manager Andy Ross, in his appeals to the committee, said the turbines were designed to secure the longevity of the factory.
He said: ”The turbines will help make the site more attractive environmentally and commercially and underpin the 270 members of staff.
”Turning the clock back to spring 2006, the site was scheduled for closure but it was given a reprieve. The major factor in that decision was the attitude and reputation of the site’s workforce.
”It has always been a major provider to Montrose and a significant contributor to the local economy. The site’s overall economic benefit to the town is about £25 million in salaries and spending with local contractors and £50m has recently been committed for a new facility for a new product to Montrose.
”It will help us double the size of the business over the next five to six years and I ask you to approve the application, given the economic significance of the factory to the town.”
Despite his plea, members voted overwhelmingly to refuse permission and urged the company to find a different way of reducing its carbon footprint.
Councillor David May led the representations against the proposals but said he had experienced great difficulty in deciding which way to vote.
”I have complete support for their aim of carbon reduction, and I would encourage more businesses to do this,” he said. ”I know from speaking to people round the town there’s great support for the turbines and a large number of people are unconcerned as long as it keeps jobs in the town.
”However, I am very concerned about the skyline, landscape and the setting. It would dominate the skyline. I feel I have no choice but to support the officer’s call and recommend to refuse the application.”
Mr May added: “I would encourage GSK to discuss a way forward and I am keen to support their goal of making the site carbon neutral.”
Concerns over the safety of the turbines were also raised by several other objectors, as were worries over a lack of detailed information on noise levels and other issues, such as shadow flicker, visibility, the size of the blades and wind power near the site.
Councillor Jeanette Gaul attempted to pass an amendment to the motion, seconded by Councillor Alex King, stating approval should be given to protect employment in the town but this was out-voted and the motion to refuse the plans was passed.
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