St Andrews University has criticised Fife Council’s handling of its windfarm proposals and said it has a better chance of a fair hearing by going to the Scottish Government.
The institution hopes to become the first university in the country to generate all its own energy through wind power by erecting six 330ft turbines at Kenly Farm, near Boarhills.
However, the plans are yet to be considered by councillors despite being lodged with officers in May last year.
Voicing its disappointment that the deadline for issuing or declining planning consent had been missed, even after allowing five time extensions, the university has appealed to the Government.
It will now be up to a Government-appointed reporter to decide whether or not the multi-million-pound windfarm, which has attracted hundreds of objections but also considerable support, can be built.
Notifying the council of the appeal, the university’s agent Jamie Quinn, of Adams Consulting Group, said: ”After almost four years of discussions with Fife Council and the local community we would like to record our disappointment that the application has not been determined within the agreed statutory decision period.”
He said there was no guarantee that the application would be brought to the next meeting of the north-east Fife area committee this month for consideration, and even if it was it could be deferred to allow councillors to visit the site.
The council was also accused of failing to read the university’s environment statement timeously, as last October it requested information Mr Quinn said was already in the document.
Mr Quinn said: ”The university cannot countenance further unjustified delays in the determination of its application. Given the feedback from Fife Council since last October on the application, and having regard to its approach when determining other applications for windfarm development over the intervening period, it considers that it has better prospects of ensuring that the determination is based on an objective assessment of its scheme by appealing to an independent decision-maker.”
The latest hold-up in the process was the result of the council allowing extra time for the public to respond to supplementary information provided by the university in July, and re-advertising the planning application.
It had been intended to determine the plans last month, the council said.
Development services service manager Mary Stewart said: ”This is a significant planning proposal with a potential for serious impacts on the communities in the St Andrews area. It is important that officers have all the necessary information to adequately consider them.
”The council also wants to make sure that local communities have the opportunity to consider and comment on the additional information submitted by the applicants and so we have re-advertised the application.”
The windfarm is a key part of the of the university’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint and its annual power bill of £5.4 million, part of which is generated by energy-intensive, world-class research at the North Haugh.
Kenly Farm, six miles from St Andrews, is owned by the university.