A councillor has hit out at an Inverclyde firm set to build a £36m windfarm after they sold up to an international energy developer – just as the project begins.
BayWa r.e. has bought Inverclyde windfarm outfit Forsa Energy, which had merged with 2020 Renewables back in 2012.
Councillor David Wilson claims 2020 Renewables had bolstered its controversial application to build eight huge turbines in the above Greenock at Corlic Hill by stressing that it was a local company.
He is unhappy that a takeover deal has now been concluded just as work begins on the project.
Councillor Wilson, who strongly opposed the local turbines application, said: “BayWa r.e. is an international firm who have acquired Forsa Energy Onshore Business.
“Forsa was formerly 2020 Renewables, who maintained they were a local company during the application process.
“This helped them.”
Cllr Wilson fears that there will be no economic benefit to the overwhelming majority of local people through the development, which was cleared by the government on appeal after being rejected by the council.
He said: “Only £2 million will be spent in Inverclyde and there are no jobs.
“A few will become millionaires but all of Inverclyde will be blighted for decades by this monstrosity, which should be offshore and not 1.2 kilometres from settlements onshore
“General guidelines are that turbines should be two kilometres from settlements – they will be 1.2 from Luss Avenue.
“This industrial park will be a blight on our hinterland, Inverclyde’s lung.”
The project will see eight 110-metre high turbines built, with work recently starting on an access point at Dougliehill Road in Port Glasgow to allow the them to be transported to the site.
Mr Wilson says the turbines will be shipped into King George V Dock in Glasgow then transported by road from Glasgow, up the Clune Brae and across a new road built over the moors at the electricity sub station.
The councillor says he is concerned at the environmental impact the development will have.
He said: “The peat on Lurg, Devol and Burnhead moors acts as a carbon sink and tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be released due to the disturbance and creation of 4.8 kilometre of roads.
“There will also be the inconvenience on upper Port Glasgow, with massive turbines moving through the town.”
Inverclyde Planning Board had refused permission for the development after opponents raised concerns about the visual impact the turbines would have, while air traffic control officials were also worried about safety for aircraft on approach to Glasgow.
But Forsa Energy appealed to the Scottish Government, and the windfarm was given the green light in 2016 after the development was deemed ‘significant but not unacceptable’.
Councillor Wilson has slammed the Scottish Government for overruling local objections.
He said: “The Scottish Government overturned a unanimous local objection by Inverclyde Council to the windfarm.
“This was a democratic outrage.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scottish ministers are committed to seeing the right developments in the right place, this means considering all perspectives as well as the adopted development plan.
“Before reaching a decision the independent planning reporter fully considered all the evidence submitted by the planning authority, the appellant and all other parties who made representations.
“The change of ownership does not affect the planning permission.”
Alasdair MacLeod, head of renewables development at BayWa r.e, meanwhile insists the takeover deal is good news.
He said: “It’s a great fit for the well established Greenock team, who bring years of renewables experience and a series of mature projects to BayWa’s long term investment plans.
“Inverclyde Windfarm will be the fourth to be constructed from the former 2020 Renewables portfolio and is the first to be constructed with the financial backing of our new owners.”
“Inverclyde Windfarm will produce 24MW of clean, renewable energy, which is enough to power around 44 per cent of Inverclyde households and compared to conventional non-renewable energy sources would displace over 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
“As Inverclyde’s only commercial scale windfarm, it will significantly increase the area’s current contribution to Scotland’s renewable energy targets.”