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Angus backs Neart na Gaoithe windfarm despite recognising ‘significant impacts on both landscape and seascape character’

Proposals to build a £1.4 billion windfarm off the Fife coast have cleared an Angus Council consultation hurdle.

The local authority’s development standards committee approved an Angus planning response to proposals for the Neart na Gaoithe windfarm project, which aims to construct up to 125 turbines in the Firth of Forth, with each turbine reaching up to 200 metres in height.

The council was asked for its response to the proposals as a statutory consultee of the Scottish Government and the development standards committee moved a report from director of infrastructure services Eric Lowson which supports the plans, without comment or representation from any of its members.

Senior planning officer Ian Mitchell told the committee: ”This is essentially off the Fife coast. It doesn’t have a huge impact on Angus other than some coastal aspects. I recommend that we should not object.”

The windfarm would be approximately 15.5 kilometres from the Fife Ness coast at its nearest point, covering an area of 105 sq km and sitting approximately 30km south-east of Angus.

The number of turbines is estimated to be between 64 and 125, generating a total of 450MW of energy.

Despite giving the proposals the green light in his report, Mr Lowson expressed his concern about the possible impact the windfarm would have on the Angus seascape.

Experts suggest the proposed turbines would appear the same size as the category A-listed Bell Rock Lighthouse off the coast of Arbroath, despite being twice as far away from the shore.

Mr Lowson said: ”I consider that there would be significant impacts on both landscape and seascape character. These are not, however, considered to be unacceptable.

”It is understood that the proposed windfarm would require lighting for both shipping navigation and aviation around the perimeter.

”As indicated with the environmental study, the proposed turbines would appear around twice as tall as the Bell Rock Lighthouse.”

He continued: ”No comparative information is provided of the relative brightness of the intended light compared to the lighthouse lamp.

”It is therefore considered that the night seascape impacts could be significant. The use of infrared aviation lights, which are not visible by the naked eye, would successfully mitigate this impact but it is unclear whether these would represent appropriate mitigation for shipping.”

Mr Lowson also identified the Bell Rock and the Ladyloan Signal Tower as culturally significant structures, but noted that Historic Scotland confirmed there would be no significant adverse indirect or cumulative impact on either structure as a result of the development.

In conclusion Mr Lowson said that as long as his comments were taken into account the concerns outlined in the report were not onsidered to be so direct or unacceptably adverse for Angus Council to object to the proposal.

The committee unanimously agreed and approved the report.