A giant turbine, larger than Blackpool Tower, the London Eye and the capital’s famous Gherkin building, has been approved for construction in Fife.
A row immediately broke out after Samsung Heavy Industries’ development was given the green light by the Scottish Government’s energy minister Fergus Ewing.
The new test centre will be used to see if cutting-edge wind technology works in an offshore environment before it is deployed commercially.
However, when The Courier asked how many jobs would be brought to Fife as a result of yesterday’s announcement, a Scottish Enterprise spokeswoman admitted the impact of the current proposal would be “very minimal”.
Last year chief executive officer of the Korean giants, Insik Roh, said that if trials of the 7 megawatt offshore turbine are successful an economic prize of 500 jobs and up to £100 million investment in the area through a full-blown manufacturing facility would follow.
The testing process could take up to five years, though, and there is no guarantee the scheme will work.
The consent – supported by more than £6 million of public money from Scottish Enterprise – was welcomed by finance secretary John Swinney during a visit to Samsung Heavy Industries’ South Korea base.
He said: “Fife can play a key role in developing knowledge and research in the energy sector.
“The site at Fife Energy Park offers the ideal location for a cutting edge test centre like this.”
Chan Hee Son, UK project manager of Samsung Heavy Industries, added: “This announcement is a major step forward in our plans to develop our latest offshore wind technology in Scotland and is a real testament to the Scottish Government’s support of the offshore wind energy industry.”
Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson said: “The success of companies in Scotland in securing business from Samsung demonstrates that we are building a strong supply chain, which is critical if we are to truly realise our offshore wind potential.”
The three-bladed demonstration turbine has permission to be in place for up to five years and if testing is completed within that time it will be removed and replaced with another giant structure.
Linda Holt, spokeswoman for Scotland Against Spin, said: “Once again the Government is championing the profits of the wind industry before its prime duty to protect its citizens.
“The turbine will create next to no sustainable jobs for locals, but it will be a disturbing eyesore for many Fifers as it will dominate the Forth coastline.”
Fife Council called the development a “major milestone” for Methil and for the kingdom as a whole.
Councillor Tom Adam, chairman of Levenmouth area committee said: “The fact that the world’s most powerful off-shore wind turbine is going to be tested for the first time just off the Fife coast is a major milestone for the local community.”
Campaigners slam plan
Anti-windfarm campaigners yesterday slammed the Scottish Government for forcing the turbine on a “largely ignorant” public.
Linda Holt from Scotland Against Spin said the decision showed an utter disregard for the people living next to it and added: “It’s a disadvantaged community which can’t stand up for itself.
“It’s a disgrace.”
She said locals would have to suffer the ill effects of living cheek-by-jowl with a massive turbine while receiving zero economic benefit.
“The turbine will create next to no sustainable jobs for locals, but it will be a disturbing eyesore for many Fifers as it will dominate the Forth coastline,” she said.
Adding that Methil residents were being “sacrificed as guinea pigs”, she claimed the turbine could result in health problems due to shadow flicker and noise.
However, some locals seemed to welcome the news yesterday.
Irene Connelly from Wellesley Road said it was an industrial area and locals were well used to noise.
“We’ve always put up with noise and we just don’t notice it any more,” she said.
“If it creates jobs then it has to be a good thing.”
Neighbour Roy Warrender added: “It doesn’t bother me.
“There used to be pylons out there and now there’s a mast.”
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