A community group has officially opposed a proposed wind farm earmarked for the hills above Helensburgh.
This week, Argyll and Bute Council also confirmed representations for the five 800kW wind turbines – which will stand 86.5 metres high to the blade tip – will be decided at a Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee on October 22.
Ahead of the meeting, the Turbines Evaluation Group – Helensburgh (TEG-H) has encouraged the community to contest the application by Helensburgh Renewables, based on the effect the wind farm will have on the ‘character’ of the town and the economic impact of the development.
A spokesman for the group of nine local residents said: “By our assessment, this proposal could do long-term harm to Helensburgh and a wide area beyond if it was allowed to go ahead.
“This is not a simple matter of quick cash. The adverse environmental and economic consequences for Helensburgh could be serious.
“Evaluating this has been demanding. We have based our analysis on official planning policies, research reports and assessment of the financial pluses and minuses. It has involved a range of contributions from outside the TEG-H committee.”
The main conclusions of TEG-H are summarised as follows: the character of the town and its economy could be impaired; the turbines would dominate the skyline; visual impact would be across the National Park and the Clyde Estuary; and it would affect a large population.
The group also claimed the wind farm could deter some potential new residents and visitors from coming to Helensburgh, an area where the economy depends on tourism.
The spokesman added that the group referred to the new Scottish Planning Policy (published in June) during their deliberations.
TEG-H has also provided their own depictions of how the turbine will look within the landscape (pictured), however Helensburgh Renewables claim that unlike the TEG-H illustrations, their images submitted with the planning application have all been created to government and regulatory standards, ensuring accuracy, and clarity.
In response to the criticism, Helensburgh Renewables – an offshoot of Helensburgh Community Development Trust and partnership between Green Cat Renewables and Luss Estates – claims the development will generate an estimated £4 million for the local community.
The developers added that there is evidence wind farms have very little impact on tourism, claiming the wind farm could be used to fund tourism initiatives and improvements – although any investment would be up to the community.
They also state that the site on Tom na Airdhe offers a balance between factors such as wind speed, grid access, visual impact, and remoteness from residential sites.
Ian Fraser, of Helensburgh Renewables, said: “For months, TEG-H’s website has made plain its objection to the turbines, so it is no surprise that its members have sought evidence to support that position. However, I have been disappointed to see the misleading information and illustrations presented by this small, self-appointed group.
“Whilst everyone is entitled to their opinions, in my view TEG-H has failed to provide the balanced assessment of the facts they had promised the people of Helensburgh.”
The wind farm application will be discussed by the Planning, Protective Services, and Licensing Committee at its meeting on October 22, according to a spokeswoman for Argyll and Bute Council. She added: “All representations should be made before this date. Some major consultees have asked for an extension to the original consultation period but all representations may be submitted within the same timescale.”
Visit www.helturbines.org for a more detailed breakdown of the TEG-H conclusions, and visit www.helensburghrenewables.co.uk for more information from the developers.
The application can be viewed on Argyll and Bute Council’s website, and the reference is 14/01674/PP.
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