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Thumbs down for GSK wind turbine appeal

The eagerly awaited appeal decision on the proposed GSK wind-turbines – yes or no – has been delivered, and the answer is no.

Scottish Government Reporter Malcolm Mahony has come down in favour of Angus Council’s original decision, that the two on-site turbines sought by GSK are not to be permitted.

Mr Mahony said in his conclusions: “It is clear to me that the proposal does not accord with the development plan.

“With regard to material considerations, the proposal would make a worthwhile contribution to the government’s targets for renewable energy generation.”

“It would have the benefits of achieving carbon neutrality and, potentially, self-sufficiency and grid independence. The proposal also has the potential for important socio- economic benefits, to which I attach significant weight.

“I recognise it is unrealistic to expect commercial wind turbines to be erected without significant impacts, and that such impacts do not mean that a development is necessarily unacceptable.

“However, I have no doubt that the adverse impacts on the visual amenity of communities in Montrose and Ferryden, on landscape character, on the distinctive profile of Montrose, on the setting of Montrose Conservation Area and on listed buildings would outweigh the benefits, to which must be added the potential for unacceptable noise on residential amenity.

“I therefore find that the proposal would be contrary to the development plan and that material considerations do not justify an exception.”

GSK expressed disappointment, and a spokesman told us that wind turbines, on the company’s own site, had been identified as the most efficient way, by far, to go along the road towards carbon neutrality.

Power generated on site, with no payments having to be made to third parties, was the best way they had found towards the Scottish Government’s preferred option.

He emphasised that GSK will continue to pursue renewable energy technology, and recalled the recent installation of CHP (combined heat and power), which is a highly efficient gas-powered system.

The question now is what happens next?

Councillor David May, who opposed the wind-turbines when they were under consideration by Angus Council, is delighted by the Reporter’s conclusion; but recognises that this is not the end.

Mr May has contacted the office of the chief executive of Angus Council to suggest a meeting should be set up with GSK’s site director to see what can be done toward’s achieving the company’s ambition to be carbon neutral.

He added: “We have to move to support GSK in this.”