A wind farm will be built in the hills above Helensburgh – if developers are given the green light by council planners.
Helensburgh Renewables submitted the long-anticipated planning application to Argyll and Bute Council last week for the five 800kW wind turbines – which will stand 86.5 metres high to the blade tip.
The community wind farm plans also seek permission for the formation of new vehicular access, crane hardstandings, and the erection of substation and temporary works compound.
The development is earmarked for the land to the south east of Tom Na H Airidh, and north of Drum-fad Wood, about 2km north of Helensburgh.
The application can be viewed online and features Environmental Impact Assessments which portray how the turbines will appear from various vantage points, such as Rosneath, Glen Fruinn, Helensburgh Pier, Loch Lomond Ferry, and Lomond School Sports Hall.
As reported in the Advertiser, Green Cat Renewables is working with landowner Luss Estates and Helensburgh Renewables – an offshoot of Helensburgh Community Development Trust – to build and operate the five-turbine wind farm. Developers say the Burgh community will receive a 33 per cent share in the scheme via a locally-elected development trust, with a potential to bring in £100,000 a year, or £4 million over the lifetime of the project.
Gavin Catto, director of Green Cat Renewables, said: “In this model, members of the community are full partners and will share in the profits on an equal basis with the developer and the landowner. The community’s share will enable the creation of a Common Good Fund which, in turn, will open up match-funding opportunities. Thus, it will be Helensburgh’s wind farm, bringing substantial and tangible benefits to the town and its people.”
Plans for the wind farm were initially unveiled in January 2013, when concerns were soon raised about how the development – overlooking Helensburgh – would affect the character of the town and impact the vista of the near-by National Park.
Mr Catto added: “Over the past few years we have held a number of events engaging with the community in and around Helensburgh, and it has been heartening to see the level of interest and support for the project.
“Even those who oppose wind power have taken a genuine interest and we have enjoyed an active level of engagement and scrutiny from the community on every aspect of the project, something which very few wind projects receive.”
Ian Fraser, of Helensburgh Renewables (HR), said more than 7,760 residents in Helensburgh, Rhu, and Shandon will be invited to take part in a survey of the proposed wind farm.
The survey will be delivered by Royal Mail on August 11 and there will be seven drop off points to return completed surveys until August 25. The boxes will then be collected and taken to the independent organisation Argyll Voluntary Action who will count the vote and announce the result.
Mr Fraser said: “I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to fill them in. I am not daft I know there will be objectors but I also know there will be a lot of supporters of this project and they need to make there voice known.”
On August 15 and 16 the developers will also host an exhibition and presentation to present their plan in person.
The Turbines Evaluation Group – Helensburgh (TEG-H) was set up in April to evaluate any planning applications for wind turbines in Helensburgh and Lomond.
The group of nine residents claims to be neither for nor against wind farms, however members have pledged to investigate, gather information, and make a balanced assessment of the facts involved in a wind farm.
Following the publication of the validated planning application, a group spokesman claimed the project will be ‘controversial’.
The group also highlighted issues of ‘special concern’, including: the visual impact on communities; the impact on residential amenity and on local landscape and townscape; a possible ‘long term economic disadvantage’ for Helensburgh; and ‘cumulative impact’.
The group say these and other planning issues will be explained on the TEG-H website www.helturbines.org.
The spokesman added: “Meanwhile TEG-H urges caution in responding to any survey or questionnaire from the developers. The developers may be seeking your quick support, but much more informed debate is needed before a survey is appropriate.”
The application can be viewed on Argyll and Bute Council’s website, and the reference is 14/01674/PP.