Fears that the erection of three 67-metre wind turbines in the East Neuk could cause turbulence which impacts on the safety of pilots using a nearby airfield have been dismissed “beyond reasonable doubt”, with the proposals being narrowly approved by councillors.
Concerns had been raised by campaigners regarding the potential impact of the turbines proposed for countryside at Bonerbo, Balmonth and Drumrack farms and their proximity to Kingsmuir Airfield.
This followed a recent ruling by a Scottish Government reporter, who stated he could not rule out that turbulence from turbines could have a detrimental effect on aircraft taking off and landing.
Councillors have been told that further expert studies, commissioned by the applicant in the wake of the reporter’s appeal decision, now showed that the proposed turbines “will not cause any significant turbulence at the airfield” and that any effect is likely to be “negligible compared with existing background levels of turbulence, which the users of the airfield already contend with and account for”.
In a report to Fife Council’s North-East Fife planning committee, service manager Alastair Hamilton said Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) policy and guidelines on wind turbines stated that development may have an impact.
However, in this particular case, the Ministry of Defence, BAA and NATS air traffic control have stated they have no objection.
The CAA has been consulted with regards to the additional information provided by the applicant and advise that it “would not wish to support or discredit” the research as it does not yet have the results of independently commissioned CAA research.
Mr Hamilton said the information was now sufficient for council planners to recommend approval on a “reasonable basis” – despite not having a third party to corroborate the applicant’s research.
He said: “While Fife Council has no means to independently corroborate the technical reports submitted in support of this application…Fife Council is satisfied that reasonable steps have been taken to provide a detailed, site-specific analysis… it is considered that sufficient, relevant and appropriate analysis has been undertaken to enable Fife Council to determine the application.”
Howe of Fife councillor David MacDiarmid, seconded by Councillor Andy Heer, moved refusal.
Mr MacDiarmid said he was “not convinced” at the air safety assertions and noted the application was also contrary to TayPlan policy on flight paths.
Mr Heer backed these concerns. He said: “If I was coming in to land and the pilot was told that the CAA was not sure about whether the airfield was safe, then I wouldn’t be happy. I think we’ve got to be 100% clear with aviation safety.”
East Neuk and Landward councillor Elizabeth Riches, seconded by fellow East Neuk member Donald MacGregor, moved approval.
Mrs Riches said that with aviation it was not always possible to say beyond all reasonable doubt that something was safe.
There were issues regarding the cumulative impact of other windfarm applications in the area but she said the application had to be taken at face value.
The application by Messrs Stevenson, Watson and Brunton, c/o of Bonerbo Farm, Anstruther, was approved by eight votes to six.
Fife Council planners say the proposed turbines represent a renewable energy proposal that would count towards the Scottish Government’s targets of achieving 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
With regard its impact on the natural and built environment, it is considered that the proposed scheme could be accommodated within the landscape and would have no adverse impact on the historic built environment at this locale.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding