West Fife kids could be playing under a 77-metre (252ft) turbine at Pitreavie after councillors approved controversial plans to build wind turbines in parks, schools and leisure centres.
Fife Council’s executive committee has greenlighted proposals to put up the turbines at seven sites in the Kingdom, five of which are in West Fife, as a way to cut its £13million annual energy bill.
Councillors have now instructed officers to apply for planning permission at Pitreavie playing fields, Halbeath Park and Ride, Inverkeithing High School and Dalgety Bay Leisure Centre.
They also backed plans for the Lochhead landfill site near Wellwood, which already has planning permission for two 32.6m (106ft) turbines, each with a 50kW capacity.
The Pitreavie turbine is set to be 77m (252ft) tall, with a 500kW capacity, and anticipated to generate £339,000 in income annually.
Halbeath will get a 45m (147ft), 225kW, expected to bring in £105,000 a year, while Inverkeithing High and Dalgety Bay Leisure Centre will both get 24m (78ft), 11kW turbines, with likely annual incomes of £8000 each.
Fife Council believes the seven sites could generate up to £11.75million – vital cash as it tries to plug a £100m budget black hole.
Depute council leader Lesley Laird said, “The council spent £13m on energy bills last year so it’s not an option to continue with the status quo.
“This project is just one part of the council’s energy strategy which has been drawn up to help reduce carbon emissions and cut the council’s energy bills.
“It’s vital we show communities that the council’s starting point is to get its own house in order by exploring new ways of doing things that can generate income against a backdrop of budget cuts so that we can continue to find ways to defend front-line services for all communities in Fife.”
Campaign group Stop Proliferation Of Turbines (SPOT) Fife warned that with 25 locations identifed by Fife Council as ‘primary sites’ for turbines, these turbines were “just the first to come through”.
Secretary Suzanne Turner said, “It is just a complete and utter waste of money. All the figures show they can’t make nearly £12m out of these turbines.
“They say Pitreavie will be at 43 per cent capacity. Most turbines in Scotland operate at 20 per cent.
“Between July 2013 and June 2014, FMC’s turbine in Dunfermline operated at 22.5 per cent capacity and Fife Council are saying that they will double that?
“That is just one figure that is completely wrong and the wind speeds are unrealistically high.”
Suzanne also slammed Fife Council for disregarding public consultations on the turbines.
“The council held these at the request of the executive committee who wanted to ensure public opinion was considered as part of the process.
“Yet they took no account of the feedback received which was overwhelmingly negative, that people don’t want these turbines and we can’t afford them.”
Spot Fife previously raised concerns about the proposed Pitreavie turbine being sited so close to the 100m (328ft) turbine at FMC in Dunfermline.
FMC’s turbine is currently subject to a Scottish Government investigation comparing the real impact of wind turbines against environmental impact assessments submitted by developers at planning stage.
Suzanne continued, “It’s very close to people’s homes and very unusual for turbines to be situated right in a town.
“Turbines cause low frequency noise and people have complained about hearing problems, and I expect the council will get a lot of complaints.
“The only council turbines put up in schools that have ever made any money are in Orkney, where they have the wind.
“To go ahead is far too risky in the current economic climate.
“Turbines do fall over or get blown down and to put these in playgrounds and schools is absolute madness.”