Anti-windfarm campaigners have accused St Andrews University of being more interested in making profit from the UK’s “morally dubious” wind subsidy system than in bolstering its green credentials.
The comment has been made by the Kenly Landscape Action Protection Group (KLPG), after it emerged that the university has lodged a strongly-worded appeal against Fife Council’s decision to reject its proposals for a “vital” windfarm at Kenly, south of St Andrews.
As reported by The Courier yesterday, in a 55-page appeal document submitted to the Scottish Government’s Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), Brodies – the solicitors acting for the university – blames Fife Council’s planning department for “misleading” councillors when they rejected the planning application.
KLPG spokesman David Chalmers told The Courier: “The university is pushing its wind farm through against the wishes of local communities, against objections from major tourism stakeholders in St Andrews, against the considered opinion of Scottish Natural Heritage and against the unanimous democratic decision of Fife councillors.
“Its community consultation has been derisory and derisive; its offer of community benefit no more than beads for natives. The university’s arguments for the wind farm are lifted from wind industry propaganda and dressed up with special pleading as one of Scotland’s leading universities – and by implication not an exploitative commercial developer.
“The ‘green’ argument depends on unproven assumptions about efficiency and carbon-saving, and ignores the impact of wind’s intermittent generation on the grid as a whole. The ‘economic’ argument is risible, given the overwhelming research which shows that windfarms destroy between two and four jobs for every one they create.
“The university’s real motivation is profit, and, in particular, the opportunity to mop up millions of pounds in subsidy. Kenly is projected to earn between £3 and £4 million annually for 25 years. Half of this is subsidy, which every electricity consumer in the UK will be obliged to pay.
“The wind subsidy system isn’t just morally dubious as it drives ever increasing numbers of families into fuel poverty. It’s also politically and economically unsustainable as experience in other countries more advanced in wind development shows.”
A spokesman for St Andrews University responded: “It is important to point out that of the 372 objections made to Fife Council, over 84% are the same template letter, produced by the KLPG. By contrast, there are 200 letters of support for the Kenly wind project publicly registered with the council and available for inspection. None are templates.
“We have always acknowledged the opposition of KLPG and their particular reasons for objecting to our renewables project, but it should also be acknowledged that there is clear, independent support for Kenly within local communities, which cannot be discounted, or shouted down. It is simply not true to say that the university is pursuing this against the wishes of local communities.
“We are a 600-year-old, not-for-profit institution, whose mission has always been research and teaching. Kenly has never been about profit. The power it generates will be used by the university in St Andrews to allow us to become less reliant on external energy sources, whose constantly rising prices are a present threat to our mission.
“We’re proud of our commitment to sustainable development; we teach it, we research it, we’ve won national and international awards and praise for it, it’s in line with Scottish Government objectives for universities and we do our best to practice what we teach and innovate wherever possible.
“Kenly is a natural extension of our commitment to sustainable development and we are continuing to talk to interested parties and individuals locally about the potential for major community benefit.”
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