Eleven organisations and groups from across Fife have written to the Chief Executive of Fife Council to complain that the Planning Department is failing local communities and individual residents threatened by turbine applications.
Planning reports, which Councillors use to decide applications, ignore national and local policies. They uncritically accept developers’ statements, especially about the the visual impact of turbines, in a way which “is prejudicial to the people of Fife”.
“The specific problems we see are:
- A culture of denial of adverse visual impact even when local communities object in considerable numbers with this as a primary reason
- The absence of a critical approach by the planning authority to the environmental impact assessments. These are self serving documents which ascribe significance of visual impact in the developer’s terms and not in the terms of the people who would receive the impact
- ASH guidelines are interpreted as if proposals are automatically acceptable at their upper limits or beyond. The guidelines describe a range of turbine heights and numbers in a broad context to encourage a developer to make the best fit choice of turbine to limit the landscape and visual impact.
- Uncritical acceptance of noise regulations, which by the Council’s own admission don’t always protect residential amenity
- There is a lack of rigour in referencing all assessment objectively to all of the relevant policies and this is resulting in local impacts of significance being ignored.“
The letter follows hot on the heels of a complaint last week to the Head of Planning about the handling of windfarm applications, pending at Clatto Hill and Devon Wood, and a complaint last year about a determined application at Earlseat.
Graham Lang of the East Fife Turbine Awareness Group said: “We all live in areas in which wind turbine applications are coming forward, at an alarming rate. The need to ensure that policies designed to protect communities and individual dwellings are afforded proper weight in assessments has never been greater. We believe the Planning Service needs to act urgently and decisively to address the concerns we are raising.”
PLEASE NOTE: Fife Council itself has admitted it is finding the massive increase in turbine applications very challenging in its recent submission to the Energy Tourism and Enterprise Committee’s Inquiry into Renewables Targets
This presents a series of challenges, no more so than increased pressure on staff resource, as wind energy applications are complex and can take considerable timescales to properly assess and determine. There is also a high level of technical expertise required by staff to properly assess applications.
For comment, please see; http://fifewindfarms.org.uk/a-storm-of-applications-in-fife-council/
For more on Scotland-wide difficulties for planners, see the Heads of Planning submission at; http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Inquiries/Heads_of_Planning_Scotland.pdf