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Demand for Fife communities to have their say on controversial turbine plans  

Credit:  By Graham Gibson | The Courier | 15 January 2014 | www.thecourier.co.uk ~~

A demand has been made for Fife communities facing controversial plans for wind turbines to be given their voice on the matter.

Among the 25 sites identified are 150ft turbines at the Michael Woods Leisure Centre in Glenrothes, Craigtoun Park in St Andrews and Pitreavie playing fields in Dunfermline.

The project could also see children playing under 114ft turbines at schools including Thornton Primary, Lochgelly High and Aberdour Primary.

Members of Fife Council’s Executive Committee have discussed whether to back, in principle, plans for the wind turbines, at an anticipated cost of £10.5 million.

The cash would comprise £5.5m from council balances, with the remaining £5m coming from the climate change capital budget.

A report to councillors said the new wind turbines would provide direct energy cost savings and a new income stream from sales of surplus electricity and government subsidy.

However, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor Lesley Laird said: “We would want to make sure that we were actively engaging with the community who are going to be impacted.

“It’s also a major point about when we actually do make that engagement.”

Fife Council senior manager (sustainability) Chris Ewing said a report would be submitted to each of the seven area committees in the next two months regarding sites which could be subject to planning applications.

One community meeting would be held in each of the seven areas to provide members of the public and community groups with information on the proposals.

When a decision is made to proceed, further community meetings would then be held, comprising more detailed information on each proposal.

He said: “At the stage we are at currently, which is still a preliminary stage, we are not at a point to make final decisions on individual developments.

“Where there was intent to move forward with the development, then our intention was to communicate on a more micro level with those individual communities who might be affected by that particular development, so it is a two-stage process.”

However, councillors were not satisfied with this suggestion.

Kirkcaldy member Neil Crooks said: “The proposals put forward regarding engagement with each area are too remote. It would be better to have the second stage first and allow people to have that input.

“I know it is 25 meetings you are going to have to take care of, which is time consuming but this is something we should have had two or three years ago.”

Glenrothes councillor Peter Grant said: “What we’re also saying is that before the community engagement starts, we need to talk to local councils and community councils and take their advice as to what kind of engagement is appropriate to their communities.

“Community engagement that works in Cardenden won’t work in Glenrothes and certainly won’t work in Freuchie or in St Andrews.

“If we get the community engagement wrong, then the whole thing will lose a bit of reputation. The essential point is all of this has to be done before we get to a planning stage.”

Committee chairman David Ross said: “Individual community consultation should take place at the first stage.”

Source:  By Graham Gibson | The Courier | 15 January 2014 | www.thecourier.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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