Developers who want to build a controversial wind farm near Greenock are `trying to defeat local democracy`, it was claimed today.
Airtricity have raised the proposed power output of the wind farm to a level which means that, under the Electricity Act, they must apply to the Scottish Executive for planning permission, rather than Inverclyde Council.
Wind farms under 50 megawatts go to councils for permission. Airtricity’s was originally less than 50, but has now been increased to 58.
They want to erect 23 turbines on Corlic Hill within an area of about a square mile, each of them 312-feet high.
Objectors say they are in favour of renewable energy but that the site is too close to houses and farms in the Gryffe Valley and Kilmacolm Road area of Greenock, and that the noise would cause `significant disturbance`.
David Wilson, chairman of protest group ‘Keep Corlic Wild’ said today: `The only reason they have raised the power level is to try to circumvent local democracy and avoid close local scrutiny of their plans.` Airtricity development engineer, Shane King, said there would be no noise problem and insisted the council would still be closely involved.
He said the power had been increased to make it the same as another of their farms in Ireland, and because it would mean that Ferguson’s of Port Glasgow would be able to build the towers.
Mr Wilson countered that Ferguson’s would still be able to build the towers even if the power was lowered.
Inverclyde Council development control manager, Nick McLaren, said: `Applying for planning permission to the Executive is a different road to the same end.
`The public will make their representations directly to the Executive rather than to the council. The public and the council will still be given the opportunity to comment directly on the application.` He said the application would be considered by councillors, and a recommendation would be made to the Executive.
A spokesman for the Executive confirmed that a public inquiry would be held if the council voted to reject the application.
But Mr Wilson said: `The key point is that Inverclyde Council will be only one of many groups being consulted about the application.
`I believe that Airtricity would not have appealed to the Executive for a public inquiry if the council had been allowed to take the decision and had refused permission.` Airtricity director, Steve Cowie, said the objectors’ main concern was property values.
But Mr Wilson said: `We have never raised that issue, but values in Strone will definitely be affected.` Airtricity say their planning application will be submitted in mid-March.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding