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Shandon wind turbine plans split public opinion

Plans for two wind turbines on a site between Shandon and Garelochhead have split local opinion – with the two community councils in the area divided over whether to support the development.

Members of Garelochhead Community Council have voiced their support for the proposal at Laigh Balernock farm – but a short distance down the lochside, Rhu and Shandon Community Council say the plans should be refused.

Applicant Robert Hamilton, who farms at Laigh Balernock on Shandon’s Station Road, has asked Argyll and Bute Council for permission to erect two turbines, each 48 metres tall to the tip of the blade, along with associated infrastructure.

The proposed site for the two turbines covers the boundary between the two community council areas, with the plans placing one of the turbines in the Garelochhead area and the other in Rhu and Shandon.

Garelochhead CC secretary Alan Pinder told the Argyll and Bute planning department: “I am registering our combined support for the application, as agreed at our November meeting.

“We do not believe it will be detrimental to the area visually and we are in support of the objective, as we believe it to be, of donating, as a result of expected surplus electricity generated, funds to the local youth organisation Route (Centre) 81.”

As the Advertiser reported when the plans first went public in October, Mr Hamilton says he plans to donate £5,000 a year to the Route 81 project through a ‘community fund’ which will be set up if and when the turbines begin operating.

But that has cut little ice with the members of Rhu and Shandon Community Council, whose convener, Jack Rudram, told the council: “On balance, and somewhat reluctantly, R&SCC feel that this proposal should be rejected as being out of scale with the needs of an individual farm and because it intrudes significantly into the views of a landscape which has been demonstrated, in Argyll and Bute Council’s own document, to have limited capacity to absorb such development.”

The R&SCC repsonse also says that if permission is granted, community benefit should be made available to all communities affected, “and in particular and specifically, the host community, which in this case is Rhu and Shandon”.

The Rhu and Shandon representatives also criticise the application’s assessment of the impact on the local ecology and historic environment.

At the time of writing the application had attracted three objections from members of the public and one expression of support.

The Ministry of Defence, Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, the National Air Traffic Service and the council’s own biodiversity officer all say they do not object to the application, while SEPA and Scottish Natural Heritage both declined to comment, saying the application was outwith their remit.

However, the West of Scotland Archaeology Service says the environmental report on the application is “inadequate” in archaeological terms.

The council’s environmental protection officer neither supports nor objects to the application, but has recommended four planning conditions in the event of permission being granted, all of them aimed at minimising the noise impact of the turbines.

The plans, and the responses to the application so far, can be viewed by searching Argyll and Bute Council’s website for the code 16/02662/PP.

The authority’s website gives a determination deadline for the application of this Sunday, December 11.