The public are still unaware of the massive scale and impact of a major North Sea offshore windfarm development, a countryside protection group has warned.
Up to 125 turbines will be constructed off the coast of Fife and Angus if global energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power is given the green light for its £1.4 billion project.
Less than a fortnight remains for the public to make their views known to Marine Scotland, which manages Scotland’s waters for the Scottish Government.
The giant windfarm at Neart na Gaoithe could be up and running in 2016 and would be capable of meeting 3.7% of Scotland’s electricity demands. Spanning 40 square miles, its nearest point to the shore is nine miles from Fife Ness.
East Fife Turbine Awareness Group has been backed by three community councils, four community preservation trusts and Protect Rural East Fife in its attempt to persuade the developer to do more to educate people of its proposal ahead of the September 10 deadline.
Spokesman for the group Graham Lang said: ”The turbines would be between 550 and 620ft high, or possibly higher.
“The only man-made object within sight from the shore is the Bell Rock lighthouse and it’s 108ft high. These would be five times that and staggered across the seascape.”
Mainstream Renewable Power began consulting on the project three years ago and held 10 community events and exhibitions in Fife, Angus and East Lothian during 2010 and 2011.
However, Mr Lang said it had been some time since the last public event and added: ”These things drift from people’s minds and become distorted. People suffer from inertia and disinterest and when something appears they wonder how it got there and why they didn’t do something to about it.
”I do not think, despite the extensive consultation, people and organisations in east Fife really understand the scale and impact of this development.
”We suggest Mainstream Renewable Power holds another presentation, followed by a question and answers session, to better inform community leaders and local elected members.”
A spokesman for the firm said: ”The Neart na Gaoithe team want to be good neighbours. The public consultation process, during which the Neart na Gaoithe plans will be on display in local libraries in Carnoustie, St Andrews and Dunbar, will continue until September 10 and we are continuing to meet with local interest groups as part of this process and beyond. We have also offered to meet with Mr Lang.”
Despite the deadline, Marine Scotland says it will accept submissions made up until local authorities have responded and their deadline is November 19.
Two other offshore windfarms could also be created in the North Sea, one by Seagreen for a 1,158 sq ft zone spanning the outer firths of the Tay and Forth and another by Repsol on a site at Inchcape.
Sites for offshore windfarms in the North Sea were identified with the aim of helping to meet Scotland’s target for all domestic energy to come from renewable sources.
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