Anti-windfarm campaigners have branded Fife Council’s FIFEplan consultation as “a complete farce”, “a shambles” and a sign the planning system is “in crisis”.
The FIFEplan consultation, launched on January 18, aims to prepare for the Fife Local Development Plan, which will replace the present three local plans in Fife by 2015.
Dr David King, a Cameron resident who attended Wednesday night’s Fife Council consultation at St Andrews Town Hall, said: “The meeting in the town hall was a shambles.
“They insisted that all comments must be made online, and when I protested that was not convenient for many people they brushed it off.”
Linda Holt, an anti-windfarm campaigner, said: “The consultation was so badly organised, it was embarrassing.
“Many people came because they were concerned about the proposals for onshore wind development but the only decent map was displayed at knee height. You literally had to get down on the floor to see it.
“Officials had one small paper offprint where the colours were so badly reproduced that it was impossible to make sense of.
“There were no forms for the public to leave comments, and a Fife Council official told me that they were not allowed to pass on verbal comments as part of the consultation.”
Graham Lang, spokesman for national anti-windfarm alliance Scotland Against Spin, said: “Despite the best efforts of Fife Council officers, the FIFEplan consultation cannot possibly do what it’s supposed to.
“Everybody is being shortchanged. The fault lies with central government which issues planning edicts which councils are obliged to carry out but deliberately starves them of the resources to do so properly.
“This situation is occurring across Scotland and is particularly acute when it comes to the unrelenting pressure from the Scottish Government on local authorities to accommodate ever more wind turbines.”
Development plan service manager Bill Lindsay said: “Fife Council is currently consulting on the main issues report for FIFEplan, which is the local development plan for Fife.
“As part of this process, a number of other related policy documents have also been made available for comment, one of which is a proposed framework for onshore wind energy in Fife.
“The purpose of the drop-in events themselves is to provide information and to afford the opportunity for the public, community councils and other interested bodies to ask questions.
“We have held five events so far at Inverkeithing, Dunfermline, Cupar, Kirkcaldy and St Andrews and we are encouraged by the level of attendance at the FIFEplan consultation drop-in events to date, particularly from the local community councils and local interest groups.
“Council officials attending the events have received many positive comments that attending the drop-in events had been useful in explaining the local development plan process to them.
“We are disappointed that anyone who felt that the event was less than informative on one aspect of the consultation, or who is having difficulty submitting comments online, has not come back to us directly.”
The consultation period for FIFEplan closes March 10.
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