The prospective developer of a windfarm in the Angus countryside has claimed “considerable” support for its project – via independent survey.
However, campaigners against the St Mary’s Well proposals north east of Forfar have called the exercise “an amateurish stunt”.
Element Power said research into the views of people in the communities surrounding the Lunanhead area found support for the plans.
The company commissioned an independent market research organisation to carry out a telephone survey of households in the area around the site, to find out more about local residents’ views of renewable energy and the proposed scheme.
This month 717 households answered the phone and 388 completed the survey. The results show 291 households (75%) considered wind farms an important part of the energy mix, with 242 (63%) in favour of the plans and 13% holding a neutral or no opinion view. The remaining 24% said they were against the scheme.
The firm’s director said the results of the survey are “very encouraging”.
Neil Lindsay said: “The results of the independent research are very encouraging – it proves that there is some real local support for the St Mary’s Well Wind Farm and that the local community recognise the environmental and economic benefits that the project would bring to the area.
“By creating employment opportunities and commercial openings for local businesses through providing substantial funding for projects that could help transform the facilities local people are able to enjoy for decades to come. The St Mary’s Well Wind Farm has great potential to make a positive impact in and around Forfar.”
However, the spokeswoman for resident protest group Stop Turbines At Lunanhead (STAL) said the survey contained “clearly loaded questions”.
“Residents are staggered by the bare faced cheek from Element Power that there is local support for the windfarm proposal,” said Susan Oliphant.
“Many residents who live nearby the proposed turbines and whose residential amenity would be destroyed were not contacted.
“It also should be noted by Element Power’s own admission that almost half of those contacted by telephone refused to answer the clearly loaded questions.”
Mrs Oliphant said STAL has found an “overwhelming” objection “will be demonstrated when hundreds of objections land on the planners’ desks.
She added: “This survey is no more than an amateurish PR stunt – an opinion that was voiced by residents at last week’s Lunanhead and District Community Council. We are confident that Angus Council will reject this windfarm proposal.”
The firm said the project is for up to five turbines with an installed capacity of up to 12MW, which would meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of the equivalent of all the homes in Forfar.
Should consent be granted, Carse Gray Estate and Element Power said they will encourage local companies to tender for contracts during the construction phase.
In addition to this, a substantial amount of funding would be provided by a community benefit that would be paid annually during the 25-year lifetime of the wind farm and made available to local community projects and groups in order to facilitate tangible, long-term benefits for all sections of the community.
Carse Gray Estate and Element Power’s “continuing public engagement process” has included two rounds of public exhibitions, meetings with community representatives, and the formation of a Community Liaison Group.
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