September 7, 2014

Turbine soil contaminant report claim

By Michael Alexander | The Courier | September 6, 2014

A wind developer withheld a report showing turbines would cause a dangerous pollutant to build up in the ground at Little Raith windfarm, it has been claimed.

Lochgelly Community Council secretary James Glen and Scotland Against Spin spokesperson Linda Holt have requested that environmental watchdog Sepa and Fife Council urgently investigate predictions by Fichtner Consulting Engineers Ltd that the turbines would cause benzene – a carcinogenic pollutant emitted by the nearby chemical works at Mossmorran – to build up around turbines at Little Raith.

Little Raith developer, Kennedy Renewables, said there was “no risk” to residents and accused the anti-windfarm campaigners of raising “unfounded concerns”.

Mr Glen said the Fichtner report was commissioned by Kennedy Renewables and was completed in 2012 before the turbines were erected.

Its modelling predicted that, while the impact of the windfarm on benzene emissions would improve air quality, it would also lead to increased concentrations of benzene in the ground within a 200m radius of the turbines.

Campaigners say monitoring has shown improved air quality in terms of benzene, confirming the report’s prediction. No study of soil quality appears to have been done since the turbines became operational.

The report has just been published on the Fife Council planning website but, campaigers say, was not mentioned in the 600-plus-page environmental statement submitted by the developer in support of its application for a further six turbines and a visitor centre at the site.

Mr Glen said: “I don’t know why Kennedy Renewables have been quietly sitting on this report since they received it in 2012.

“Why didn’t they alert the authorities? Why didn’t they implement continuous soil and water monitoring of benzene and other pollutants on their site as soon as the turbines were up?”

Jonny Kennedy, managing director of Kennedy Renewables, replied: “There are clear conditions placed on us.

He went on: “We exceeded these conditions by monitoring benzene levels for the period of 12 months prior to building the windfarm, and in three separate locations, instead of two.

“The interim results of the monitoring showed that benzene concentrations had not increased since the installation of the windfarm and levels were well below typical rural outdoor concentrations.

“Fichtner were commissioned to investigate benzene and the conclusions were summarised in the scoping report for the Little Raith Wind Farm extension.

“The scoping report concluded that any change in benzene levels as a result of the windfarm extension would not be significant and the requirement to include further investigation with the environment statement was scoped out,” he continued..

“Fife Council did not request that benzene monitoring was included in the environmental statement.

SEPA are a statutory consultee and reviewed the scoping report. They, also, did not raise benzene as an issue.

“No additional surveys were requested of either ground conditions or ambient air quality. As the benzene issue was scoped out of the assessment, it was not included in the environmental statement.

“We are disappointed by the misinformation being presented by Mr Glen and the anti-wind group Scotland Against Spin,” he went on.

“We take all environmental issues very seriously.

“We would be happy to meet with Mr Glen and Ms Holt to discuss the particular issues they have . . . and also to discuss the benefits of wind energy to the environment.”

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