Fears for public safety have been voiced over the proposed erection of more wind turbines close to the A92 in Fife.
Six additional turbines 415 feet high could be erected at the Little Raith Wind Farm, near Lochgelly, but there are worries they would create a hazard for road and air traffic.
WK Extension Project Ltd has appealed to the Scottish Government to determine planning consent, after Fife Council missed the four-month deadline for processing its application.
Councillors expressed concerns that the huge structures beside Fife Ethylene Plant at Mossmorran could distract motorists and cause accidents. However, they were advised that government-appointed reporters had previously disregarded driver distraction in appeals, as there was no evidence it was a road safety issue.
The proposed turbines would be closer to the dual carriageway than the nine already there.
Councillor Peter Grant said: “This is a very busy, fast road. I think there is an argument on road safety and driver distraction grounds.
“If you put up an advertising board at the side of the road, you will be told to take it down but a 350-feet turbine is considered safe because it doesn’t distract anyone. Let the reporter worry about that.”
Councillor John Wincott said: “The closest turbine is 250 metres (820 feet) from the A92, which is ridiculously close.”
Councillors also heard that Edinburgh Airport objected to the development, stating that the turbines would appear as clutter on radar screens.
The airport said there would be a detrimental impact on air traffic control operations and a significant risk of misidentification with real aircraft radar returns.
The appellant claims the development will have economic and environmental benefits, creating jobs and renewable energy. It also pointed out the site is in an industrial landscape, including a major overhead electricity line, the ethylene plant and other turbines. Though there were more than 320 objections to the scheme, it also claimed there is significant support from residents in nearby Cowdenbeath, Lumphinnans, Lochgelly and Auchtertool.
Fife Council is to recommend the appeal be dismissed on the grounds of significant adverse impact upon the landscape and visual amenity of the area, that there are already too many very large turbines in the area and that the turbines would be visible to Edinburgh Airport radar.
Opinions expressed by the council’s central area planning committee yesterday and by the west area planning committee next week will be sent to the reporter appointed to determine the appeal.
Meanwhile, planning consent was granted for a turbine just 20 feet smaller north of the A915 Standing Stane Road.
The same committee agreed that the structure had been sympathetically designed to fit in with eight others already built at the adjacent Earlseat Wind Farm.
While some councillors voiced concerns that the number of turbines at Earlseat is being allowed to creep up, the majority voted to grant consent with the condition that a financial bond be negotiated for dismantling the turbine at the end of its operational life. Applicant Allan Clark, of Woodbank Farm, Windygates, has offered an annual financial contribution to the community of £15,000.
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