A controversial plan to expand a Scottish windfarm has been thrown out by the Government, amid fears it could seriously affect aircraft at Edinburgh Airport.
The way Kennedy Renewables handled its proposal to nearly double the number of turbines on Little Raith near Cowdenbeath had been condemned by local MSP Alex Rowley who feared it was seeking to gain approval for the move “by the back door”.
Following months of discussion with Fife Council, whose officers said they could not support the plans, the company exercised its right of appeal for non-determination with the Government on December 24.
But at the end of that appeal, the reporter appointed by Scottish ministers dismissed it and refused permission to erect six 126.5metre high turbines on the site.
“I consider the proposal would give rise to significant landscape and visual impacts, including cumulative impacts, and could pose a risk to aviation safety,” said Sinead Lynch.
It would be contrary to the local plan policy as it would have an adverse impact on the natural environment and the local communities of Lochgelly and Cowdenbeath, she added.
The reporter added the 19.2MW of electricity generated by the expansion would only make a modest contribution to the renewable energy supplies – on balance not enough to justify no-compliance with other factors, including its impact on communities.
There have been complaints about shadow and flicker from the existing windfarm but she said the potential impact arising from the expansion was minor. However, she was concerned about the impact on planes using Edinburgh Airport, concluding the proposal “could potentially be a risk to aviation safety”.
Lochgelly Community Council chairman James Glen described the decision as “very sensible” and welcomed the DPEA’s support of Fife planning policy “which finds the local area now at saturation point for industrial scale wind turbines”.
But he said while the decision would provide some comfort to locals, another major development was proposed for turbines at Lochore Meadows.
George Kinnell, spokesman for community website Loch of Shining Waters, said the application had received 324 objections and only 16 letters of support, “which gave Kennedy Renewables a clear message that the local community did not want an extension”.
“They ignored the will of the local community and the opinion of Fife planning department and our elected representatives to pursue an appeal,” he said.
Mr Rowley said the correct decision had been made, which was absolutely in line with the strategic framework set out by Fife Council for land-based turbines.
The MSP added: “This company has refused point blank to pay the going community rate for the community gain for their existing turbines which is disappointing.
“There are also concerns of the impact of existing turbines on people’s health who live near the windfarm and I am continuing to pursue this with the relevant authorities.”
Noting the decision, the council’s senior planning manager, Jim Birrell, said: “The council was concerned about the serious landscape and aviation safety impacts of these six additional turbines at Little Raith.”
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