August 22, 2014

Dunoon wind farm developer under fire

Written by Colin Cameron | Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard | 22 August 2014 |

A developer hoping to build a wind farm on a range of Cowal hills overlooking the Firth of Clyde has been slammed by campaigners after the firm pulled out of a joint forum with community councils – saying that it “is not fulfilling the purpose for which it has been created”.

The move comes just two months after the company, PNE Wind, refused to attend a public meeting on its plans at the Queen’s Hall in Dunoon.

German-owned PNE Wind UK, in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), is preparing a planning application to build a wind farm (to be called Bachan Burn) with up to 20 turbines in the national forest estate on the range of hills between Dunoon and Innellan (top right of photograph above), sufficient to generate an estimated 50mW of electricity.

It had been in discussion with local community councils over its plans through a community liaison group, but recently cancelled a planned meeting of this forum, due to have been held on Wednesday of this week.

Bachan Burn development project manager, Laura Jeffrey, told community council representatives: “…I would suggest that the forum, in its current form, is not fulfilling the purpose for which it has been created. As such, I can confirm that we will not be progressing with the proposed meeting on the 20th August”.

Campaign group Save Cowal’s Hills has accused PNE Wind of treating locals “with contempt”.

In a letter published in this week’s Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard, Philip Norris of the group writes: “We understand that PNE Wind was unhappy to hear opposition to its plans at forum meetings.

“On top of PNE Wind’s recent refusal to attend a planned public meeting in the Queen’s Hall in June, this news demonstrates that the company is treating our community with contempt.

“Far from scaling down, or preferably withdrawing its plans, the company prefers not to hear the very numerous voices of opposition to its scheme, which in landscape terms is extreme, to say the least.”

The company responded: “PNE has been working in the local area since late 2013 to gather resident and stakeholder views on the developing proposals.

“Following an initial drop-in session at the Queen’s Hall in October 2013, the first round of public consultation exhibitions took place in Dunoon and Bute during March 2014.

“PNE Wind UK is committed to comprehensive consultation with the local community and has explored a range of ways in which to engage both statutory consultees and local residents, and to create a constructive environment for discussion.

“We will continue to engage local residents and consultees as our plans progress.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in the proposals to contact us directly should they wish to receive a presentation or further information.”

Forestry Commission Scotland is supporting the approach taken by PNE Wind, with a spokesman saying: “We are satisfied with the high level of community consultation so far undertaken by PNE Wind and we are confident that this will continue as the project develops.”

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