Plans for five huge wind turbines next to Knockhill Racing Circuit have been refused by the Scottish Government.
REG Windpower wanted to build the 110-metres tall structures at Outh Muir, in the Cleish Hills, but were met with an avalanche of opposition.
And last week Scottish Government reporter Richard Hickman decided the windfarm would be a “very unwelcome intrusion” and posed a “potential risk to the safety of aircraft”.
Fife Council had refused planning permission in March after more than 600 letters and objections from Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Edinburgh Airport and bosses at the race track. They cited the impact on Dunfermline’s historic skyline, the Dumglow Cairn and Fort and the operations of air traffic control.
Surrey-based group REG Windpower said each turbine – which would be the same height as the Forth Bridge – would have a generating capacity of up to 2.5 megawatts and be operational for 25 years. The plans attracted around 20 letters of support.
An appeal was lodged but Mr Hickman’s ruling backed the council’s stance and the windfarm will not go ahead. He agreed that the turbines would be “a very conspicuous feature in many views” and a “very unwelcome intrusion in this secluded part of the hills” for the anglers at nearby Loch Glow.
He concluded that the development would “inevitably result in an adverse perception of the landscape character surrounding the appeal site” and, discussing the Dumglow fort and cairn, a site of “national importance”, Mr Hickman agreed that the turbines “may affect an observer’s experience of the monument”.
He said the airport’s concerns alone would have been enough for him to refuse the appeal.
They were worried that the turbines would be visible on Edinburgh’s radar and “appear to the air traffic controllers as clutter” with the “significant risk of mis-identification with real aircraft radar returns, resulting in a detrimental effect on the operations of air traffic control”.
He said the applicant had contacted airport bosses to propose a system to mitigate the problem but said there had been no confirmation from the airport to say if this had been accepted.
The reporter said the “uncertainty represents a considerable potential risk to the safety of aircraft using Edinburgh Airport” and the absence of an agreed technical solution was a “very serious obstacle” to the grant of planning permission.
Mr Hickman added, “Even if all other aspects of the proposal were found to be acceptable, I would not feel able to approve the development.”
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