A global consultancy and engineering services firm says it is prepared to offer a £1.725million carrot to West Fife communities to put up a wind farm near Kelty and Lochore Meadows Country Park.
Amec Foster Wheeler has requested a scoping opinion from Fife Council for the project, which proposes up to six turbines of up to 100 metres (328ft) at Hilton of Beath Farm. And the firm says the local community could benefit by £69,000 each year – or £1.725million over the turbines’ lifespan – as part of a community fund package.
The wind farm would generate a maximum of 13.8MW a year, or 31.29 gigawatt-hours, which Amec Foster Wheeler claims is equivalent to the amount of electricity used annually by 9778 homes. Its scoping report proposed a timescale of February 2017 for commissioning the turbines, which would have a lifespan of 25 years.
The report stated, “The provision of a community benefits package is not a legal requirement and will not be a material consideration in the determination of the application. However, Amec Foster Wheeler is offering fair and tangible benefits to local host communities as part of this proposed development.”
It continued, “Based on a 13.8MW project, the Hilton Wind Farm could potentially represent £69,000 per year or £1.725m over the lifetime of the project to support local causes.
“It is envisaged that the means of administering this community fund will be discussed and agreed with the community and secured in a Section 75 agreement, should planning consent be granted.”
Amec Foster Wheeler added that there was a “potential opportunity” to develop the site in partnership with the local community, on a shared ownership model – potentially generating an estimated £200,000, or £5.2m over the project’s lifetime, in addition to community benefits.
The report added, “The structure of the shared ownership will be agreed with the community, however, initial assessments indicate that community ownership of one virtual turbine and the associated revenue from it (i.e. 1/6th) may be most likely.”
As part of the development process, Amec Foster Wheeler also said it would work with the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust to improve visitor access and enhance the site for recreation.
Amec Foster Wheeler added that while cumulative landscape and visual impact had been identified as a key issue, the report had “not identified any fundamental reason why the proposal could not be supported by Fife Council in a national and local land use planning contact”.
It also highlighted that there are nine other wind turbine developments within a 10km radius, which are either operating, approved, in planning or appeal, including Little Raith, Blairadam Forest, and Mossmorran and Goathill Quarry.
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