The national park has lodged a shock objection to windfarm plans – fearing the turbines could impact on visitors’ enjoyment of the tourist attraction.
Members of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park’s planning committee unanimously decided to object to proposals for a community windfarm – which will also be seen in areas across Helensburgh – in a U-turn which defied officers’ recommendations.
Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust wants to build five 92.5m turbines in Cove and reckons it will make between £300,000 and £400,000 profit during the first 15 years, with all money to be spent on community projects.
But the park is worried the structures will blight the area and has asked Argyll and Bute Council – due to make a decision on the plans – to carry out an economic assessment of any impact the development could have on tourism.At the meeting, members opposed officers’ recommendations that there would be a “moderate adverse impact” on the landscape and proposed an amendment, reading: “The proposal will have a significant adverse impact on the residents and recreational/ visitor enjoyment and landscape experience of the southern and western areas of the national park.”
One member of the public, who was at the meeting, said: “We were all really surprised, as were the trust.
“The authority received a backlash when the report came out claiming there would be a “moderate adverse impact” then their committee changed their minds at the meeting.
“One of the members of the committee proposed submitting an objection and the chairman asked whether there was a seconder for the motion and every member of the committee shot their hands up. The trust members went away absolutely shocked.
“They’ve had various meetings with the authority and didn’t think there would be any problems. It could certainly have an impact on the final decision because the park is a major statutory consultee.”
The trust’s controversial submissions have received mixed responses with more than 1,000 comments lodged with Argyll and Bute Council.
Supporters say the turbines will develop much needed funds for the area whilst objectors contest the proposed profit and claim it will be an eyesore. The trust say the development will have the most visual impact in Cove and “minimal visibility” from Rhu, Shandon and Helensburgh.
Murdo MacDonald, chair of the trust, said: “We were surprised because we were aware of the recommendation from the planning officers but there are dozens of consultees and we don’t believe we will get many objections. I think roughly the ratio of supporters to objectors is 2:1. We fully expected there to be a lot of interest but we are disappointed in the amount of misinformation which is being spread by the objectors which is very unhelpful.”
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