Dissension and animosity could be Fife’s true legacy of the proliferation of windfarm plans.
That’s the warning from Saline and Steelend Community Council chairman John Crane, who fears the former “paradise of Fife” could be transformed into the region’s windfarm capital.
Mr Crane said the proliferation and cumulative effects of wind turbines was causing the community council considerable concern.
These range in scale from the relatively small turbines being installed by local farmers to the large 70-metre-plus wind “factories” being funded by specialist professional developers.
“Applications, scoping reports and projected proposals for over 50 wind turbines relate to our area and a wide variety of sizes and manufacturers of machine apply,” Mr Crane added.
“In relation to planning applications, one of the prime responsibilities of a community council is to represent the views of the community back to the local authority.”
But with a vast area of rural Fife coming under the community council’s umbrella, that task was proving to be a difficult one.
“Unfortunately, with a community council area the size of ours, over eight miles from east to west and five miles from north to south, this is easier said than done.
“With a variety of terrain, two villages, a number of hamlets and some 100 isolated farmsteads, country houses and cottages, the formation of a realistic and comprehensively true response to the local authority is frequently difficult.
“As a general rule, the community council has not opposed small turbines erected by local farmers, but we have objected to applications for clusters of large turbines sited in inappropriate locations.
“We have also given support to local residents who have formed opposition groups, for example Scatt and Spot.”
However, Mr Crane warned: “What price community cohesion?
“I have already experienced first hand the dissension between landowners and their neighbours over contentious applications for wind turbines.
“This dissension can only get worse as we foresee increasing numbers of such applications for Saline and its environs.
“Folk who reside in the Saline area are obviously determined to defend their environment.
“On the other hand, developers are offering considerable financial benefit to landowners and the general community.
“Although community benefit should not have a ruling influence on planning application decisions, it would be naive to think that developers are proffering these inducements out of the goodness of their hearts, as such offers will tend to reduce the number of objections lodged.”
The chairman said, in a community such as his, dissension and animosity could last as long as the turbine remains standing.
“A stark reminder of a battle lost; lasting unhealed sores – I wonder if any amount of community benefit money is worth it?”
What was clear was the time community councils now spend on looking into potential developments, as opposed to carrying out their traditional role, Mr Crane added.
“What I do know is that a considerable amount of our time will be taken up with assessing, monitoring and responding to wind turbine planning applications – time that we would rather be using on the more important aspects of community life like engaging appropriately with and supporting our numerous local voluntary groups, helping to produce the parish newsletter, organising social activities such as theWest FifeVillagesArt Exhibition and the Saline bonfire and firework display, not to mention bombarding Fife Council with letters complaining about the poor state of the roads in our area.
“Saline parish was once known as the paradise of Fife.
“Maybe its future nomenclature, unless a more rigorous approach is taken to the applications for the erection of turbines, will be the windfarm capital of Fife.”
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