A revised Knapdale wind farm deemed an ‘upright industrial estate’ almost as tall as the Blackpool Tower will be revealed at an exhibition in Tarbert today (Friday February 24) – and community councillors are urging the public to attend with their questions.
Glasgow-based wind farm developer Force 9 Energy is proposing building Airigh Wind Farm within a forestry plantation 8.4km southwest of Tarbert, comprising 14 turbines up to 150m high and generating more than 50MW – enough to power 30,178 houses. A road from the A83 near Inverneill will give access to the site.
Force 9 Energy’s project partner, EDF Energy Renewables, has promised to pay a community benefit package at the Scottish Government’s recommended rate of £5,000 per MW each year, potentially bringing in £250,000 annually, and up to £6,250,000 over the wind farm’s 25-year lifetime. Force 9 Energy is also offering up to 10 per cent community ownership, giving local communities a share in the profits.
If consented, eight turbines will stand at 150m, with two at 141.5m, four at 130m, and blades measuring 60m in diameter. Force 9 has commissioned assessments on the environmental and visual impacts, which show turbines will be visible from parts of Islay, Jura, Gigha, Arran, the A83, B8024 and B8001, and Portavadie.
Consent for wind farms generating in excess of 50MW is decided by the Scottish Government, rather than the local authority, Argyll and Bute Council. The planning application is expected to be submitted in May 2017. Following feedback from its first public exhibition last September, Force 9 Energy reduced the number of turbines from 17 to 14, and changed the name from Carse to Airigh. Today’s public exhibition of the revised plans takes place in Tarbert’s Templar Arts and Leisure Centre, between 1pm and 7.30pm, with two presentations and Q&As at 2pm and 5.30pm. All turbines lie within the area of South Knapdale Community Council, which urged residents to attend the meeting, ‘as your opportunity to ask any question direct to the developers’.
Community councillors aired concerns at an extraordinary meeting with Force 9 in January, arguing building in the South Knapdale ‘area of panoramic quality’ (APQ) would ‘irrevocably damage a unique scenic location and would set a precedent for future developments. Once damaged, the APQ would lose much of its aesthetic value’. Force 9, the minutes record, responded that the site was positioned to minimise turbine visibility, with ‘little visibility from the B8024’. One community councillor told the Advertiser: ‘The entry track is 17km over virgin ground. They say you cannot see the turbines from the road. Every yachtsman or someone on a ferry is going to see it full in the face. I call it an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere. It’s just upright.’
Force 9’s head of planning and development, Andrew Smith, said: ‘Feedback has helped shape and inform the updated wind farm proposal. We have carefully considered the visibility and composition of turbines from key viewpoints and have sought to reduce visibility from these locations. We would encourage members of the community to attend.’
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