Inverclyde planning officials are recommending that an application by 2020 Renewables for an eight-turbine wind farm in moorland above Greenock be refused.
The turbines would be 110 metres (360 feet) high to the blade tip and 65 metres (213 feet) to hub height, each with three blades and capable of generating two to three megawatts of power.
In his report about the development, Stuart Jamieson, Inverclyde’s head of regeneration and planning, states: “This application, despite the applicant’s attempts to absorb the wind farm into the landscape, still remains visually prominent to the detriment of the character of the landscape. The applicant has chosen a site of extreme visual prominence at the top of a rolling hills landform overlooking towns and in one of the most scenic areas of Scotland.
“The wind farm would be a dominant and incongruous feature of the skyline, as viewed from parts of Greenock, Kilmacolm and the wider Clyde Estuary. It would visually dominate the northern reaches of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, to the detriment of the perception and recreational enjoyment of this part of the Park.
“It is also clear from the consultation responses that there remain safety concerns as to how the proposed wind farm would impact on the safe operation of Glasgow Airport and en-route air traffic.”
Councillors on Inverclyde Planning Board will consider the application at a hearing on Wednesday. Officials are urging them to refer the matter to a full meeting of Inverclyde Council with a recommendation that it be refused.
The application site covers 209 hectares and centres on parts of Burnhead, Lurg and Maukinhill Moors and Corlic Hill, from where it extends north-eastwards in a narrow strip towards Dougliehill Road, Port Glasgow.
The boundaries of the site are about three kilometres to the south-east of Greenock town centre, 2.25 kilometres to the south-west of Port Glasgow town centre and six-kilometres from Kilmacolm village centre. The site is bisected by the B788 Greenock to Kilmacolm Road.
Within Greenock, the houses closest to the turbines would be in Luss Place (1.2 kilometres), while in Port Glasgow and Kilmacolm the closest houses are in Mackie Avenue (1.8 kilometres) and Auchenbothie Gardens (4.6 kilometres).
A network of access tracks, typically six metres wide, are proposed from Dougliehill Road, extending across Devol Moor and crossing the B788. These would develop into a network of paths connecting the turbines and linking into popular walking routes in the area.
Construction would take up to a year. On completion, the windfarm – which would have a life of about 25 years – would potentially create five jobs
The applicant supports the principle of Community Funds, with the offer of at least £5,000 per megawatt; this would mean £150,000 community fund per year.
There have been more than 700 objections from organisations and members of the public.
Glasgow Airport object as the site is within the Glasgow Airport Control Zone and on one of the main entry/exit lanes to Glasgow Airport. The turbines would have an impact on radar screens increasing the risk of misidentification of aircraft, increasing controller workload and affecting air safety. National Air Traffic Services object as they anticipate unacceptable impact on three radar.
Clyde Muirshiel Park’s manager is against the wind farm saying it would have an adverse impact on the landscape and ecology of the park affecting tourism, recreation and the cultural heritage.
City Design Co-operative Ltd (the council’s landscape consultants) say the siting of 110-metre-high turbines so close to the top of Corlic Hill will mark a “significant change in the character of the area and in how it is perceived from a distance.” The proposal would “dramatically change the skyline, particularly when seen from a distance.”
They add that the local impacts on the existing ground conditions and related habitat are likely to be significant and permanent. Local water movement would be permanently affected by the proposal. Loss/destruction of peat remains a major concern. Overall the form, size, location and impacts of this proposal would be detrimental to the landscape and environment.
Historic Scotland object because of the potential for “significant adverse effects” on the setting of the Lurg Moor Roman Fortlet and Roman Road.
Two neighbouring councils have objected to the plan. Argyll And Bute say the scale of the turbines, the extent of rotor visibility and the eye catching nature of the rotation of the blades in views from the vicinity of Cardross mean it would “exert a commanding presence on the skyline above the Clyde.” North Ayrshire Council say it should be refused as it would have an unacceptable landscape and visual impact.
In their statement, Scottish Natural Heritage say that the “nature and scale of the proposal in this highly sensitive coastal location will result in significant adverse landscape and visual effects and the proposal would have adverse cumulative effects on the wild land area, but this is not considered of sufficient magnitude as to raise an objection.”
A plan for 22 turbines (each 100 metres high) was rejected in 2005 after a public inquiry mainly because of the impact on Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and on the operation of Glasgow Airport and its future growth.
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