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Forestry body ‘kept in the dark’ over Fife windfarm plans

The public sector owner of woodland in Fife where a large windfarm may be built claimed it has been kept in the dark about the proposal.

Despite entering a partnership three years ago with the developer of plans for 11 turbines at Blairadam Forest, near Kelty, Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) alleged it had not been consulted.

Partnership for Renewables, which was appointed by the Scottish Government woodlands directorate in 2010 to deliver wind energy projects, is behind plans for the 377-feet green energy generators.

But FCS complained to Fife Council as part of the planning process that it had neither seen a copy of a scoping report supposedly sent to it by PfR, nor been contacted as a consultee within the stated time period.

Neil White, woodland officer for Central Scotland Conservancy, claimed his office had only been notified of the proposal within the last few weeks and voiced disappointment it had not been involved at an early stage in the proposal by PfR.

PfR, set up by the Carbon Trust, has submitted a proposal of application notice to Fife Council for the scheme.

West Fife campaign group Stop Proliferation of Turbines criticised the apparent communication failure.

Chairman Andrew Turner said: “It’s indicative of the haphazard approach to the planning and building of these massive industrial structures that the developer hasn’t undertaken its responsibilites to inform the relevant people within Forestry Commission Scotland about the project and that Forestry Commission Scotland has the benefit of being a statutory consultee on their own project.

“At the same time, we have Fife Council putting in applications for two 110-feet wind turbines at nearby Lochhead landfill site, as well as other sites across Fife, which will be adjudicated by Fife councillors and Fife planning department.

“It appears that objective scrutinisation of these developments is being bypassed in favour of expediency.”

An FCS spokesman confirmed its long-standing agreement with PfR for Central Belt and Borders windfarm development on forestry land.

He said: “This agreement has worked well in developing a number of wind energy projects in a very open and transparent manner.

“On Blairadam, it is at an early stage in development and unfortunately the letter to the council did not take into account the previous dialogue that had continued between PfR, Forest Enterprise Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland.

“However, we recognised back in April the need to review progress between us and have organised a meeting within the next couple of weeks to discuss ongoing issues.”

A PfR spokesman said the organisation had worked closely with FCS staff since early 2010 on several projects, including Blairadam.

He said: “Forestry Commission staff attend all our exhibitions, including those already held on the Blairadam project in Kelty and Cleish in December last year, and will be attending the forthcoming events in Saline and Kelty this week showing future plans for the forest.

“These events will give an opportunity for local residents and groups to hear about progress with the Blairadam project as well as the potential community investment opportunity and the benefit fund that will be established should the development be consented.”