Developers have withdrawn controversial plans to build a wind farm on the hills above Helensburgh – but objectors fear the project could get the go-ahead in another guise as the applicants vow to submit a revised proposal.
An objection by Glasgow Airport sounded the death knell for the £7.5m five-turbine proposal, which was first submitted to Argyll and Bute Council planners a year ago.
Opposition groups hailed the submission as ‘significant’, and although the developers – Helensburgh Renewables, Green Cat Renewables, and land owner Luss Estates – met airport managers in March to discuss the objection, it was to no avail.
Glasgow Airport claimed the proposed development location on land north of Drumfad Wood, about 2km north of the Burgh, is in a ‘sensitive area of airspace’.
The representation stated the 86.5m turbines would clutter radar screens and impact the ability of air traffic controllers to detect unknown aircraft – reducing safety assurances.
Despite an email from the applicant on July 14 claiming they were ‘not minded’ to withdraw the application, the proposals were dropped this week.
However, the developers have now confirmed they will seek another site for the project.
Helensburgh Renewables told the Advertiser: “Due to aviation objections, Helensburgh Renewables is redrawing plans for Helensburgh Community Wind Farm and has consequently withdrawn its current planning application from Argyll and Bute Council.
“Helensburgh Renewables will continue to work with NATS and is in the process of screening an alternative location within the site boundary with a view to developing and submitting revised plans in due course.”
Plans for the wind farm were initially unveiled in January 2013, when concerns were soon raised about how the development – overlooking Helensburgh – would affect the character of the town and impact the vista of the near-by National Park.
Developers had claimed the Helensburgh community would receive a 33 per cent share in the scheme via a locally-elected development trust, with a potential to bring in £100,000 a year, or £4 million over the lifetime of the project.
A spokesman for opposition group Turbines Evaluation Group for Helensburgh and area (TEG-H), said the airport objection was just one in a number of issues with the application.
He said: “Another application of a similar sort may yet emerge and, if it does, the evidence of threat to the character and the economy of the town is likely to remain.
“The new application will be, according to the developers, in ‘an alternative location within the site boundary’. So it would still be above Helensburgh.
“The reason given for interim withdrawal concerns air safety. However, air traffic is just one of many grounds for objection and should not be the determining factor, in our view.
“Major national and regional organisations (including Scottish Natural Heritage, the National Park, the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland and others) have raised significant grounds to oppose the turbines, as have many local bodies and individuals. If the new application is similar, then these concerns are likely to remain.
“Evidence mounted against the first proposal and public consultations have been consistently hostile to the wind farm. If any turbines in a similar location were to be allowed, they could also set a precedent for a “crown of thorns” around both the National Park and the Clyde estuary as well as affecting Helensburgh. The prospect is disturbing.
“TEG-H will await further information and will keep the public informed through its website and decide what action to take.”
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