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Angry resignations after Fife turbines given go-ahead

A Fife community council is in crisis after three resignations over a controversial decision to approve massive wind turbines.

Several members of the Auchtertool body, including the chairman, secretary and treasurer, have resigned over the proposal for Clentrie Farm.

They claim villagers’ concerns about the impact of the three 326ft structures have been ignored by the very people elected to represent them.

The application, by Aberdeen-based Renewable Energy Ventures, had been recommended for refusal by Fife Council’s planning officials, who believed it would have a big impact on villagers’ views and the nearby Cullaloe Hills.

However, it was granted by members of Kirkcaldy area committee, who heard many villagers were in support.

Former community council secretary Katrona Turner said that with just two members left, it was unclear whether the organisation could continue.

“We felt as a body representing the views of villagers we were not listened to by councillors elected to represent us,” she said.

“Had the planners employed by Fife Council recommended the planning application be approved, the community council would have been unhappy but would have moved on, as the public have no right to appeal.

“However, the planners of Fife Council recommended the application be refused on the grounds of the wind turbines’ impact on the community. This was echoed by other professional bodies.”

She added: “This application was agreed by the planning committee, which included councillors George Kay and Susan Leslie, who represent Auchtertool.

“What is even more frustrating and difficult to understand is that both councillors attend community council meetings and are aware of the objections to this application.”

Mrs Turner said prior to the decision on March 27, the community council had surveyed villagers’ opinions on Clentrie windfarm and 93% of the 116 replies were against the turbines.

She added most people were concerned Auchtertool would become surrounded by turbines and expressed fears about the cumulative visual impact, as well as the affect on villagers’ health.

However, the area committee was told more than half the 72 people who attended a public exhibition about the development were in favour and the council had received 47 letters of support and just 24 letters of objection.

Councillor Kay said he had wrestled with the decision for months and expressed concern that should it be refused, it would be approved on appeal.

He denied he had not listened to the community council’s concerns, saying: “I have most certainly been listening and I have been listening to the developer as well.

“As a member of the planning committee, when you have to make the decision, it’s your decision, taking on board everything that’s been said.”

He said the fact the community council had all but disbanded was very sad, adding he had had a good working relationship with members for many years.

Graeme Whyte, chairman of campaign group SPOT Fife, accused councillors of ignoring determining planning issues and focusing on community benefit.

“To make matters worse, Councillor Kay had the audacity to prejudge what decision a government reporter would have reached were they to have refused the application and made that a reason to approve it,” he said.

“In fact, around 70% of appeals against refusal of wind farms or smaller turbines developments are dismissed, so to say the reporter would have given the go-ahead adds to the insult.”