Clentrie Wind Farm compromising of 3 x 326ft turbines have been granted planning approval from Kirkcaldy Area Committee despite recommendations for refusal by Fife Council, objections from SNH, RSPB, and a local survey conducted in Auchtertool which showed 93% of residents were against the proposal.
The three turbines are to be built in close proximity to Little Raith Wind Farm, the Shell Chemical Refinery (a Buncefield type site), and ExxonMobil’s Fife Ethylene Plant (COMAH site).
The approval by Kirkcaldy Area Committee has caused resignations from all the Office Bearers at Auchtertool Community Council, leaving 2 Community Councillors serving which means it is likely that Auchtertool will no longer have a Community Council.
The wind farm is offering £3000 per installed Mw as a Community Benefit, which is £1000 more than what is currently being provided by Little Raith Wind Farm, but it is still well below the national average of £5000 per installed Mw. The Community Benefit will solely be for the Auchtertool area, despite that the turbines will have a very high visual impact on the Lochgelly area.
The approval of the wind farm has caused controversy after two councillors stated that ‘I would rather have turbines than a nuclear power station’ and ‘we’re going to be able to see these turbines, which are not as ugly as pylons in my view’.
Other reasons for approval included that Fife Council were planning on building a wind farm so this application must be approved, and the other reason given was that the Scottish Reporter would approve the wind farm on appeal, despite the Scottish Reporter rejecting over 70% of wind turbine developments of this size.
Concern has been raised that the decision for approval was based on personal opinions, second guessing the actions of the Scottish Reporter, and not planning material considerations. Recently at the Lochgelly Community Council meeting, Community Councillors denounced the decision.
Robert Millar of the Lochgelly Community Council highlighted that Little Raith is already causing noise pollution for some residents, and that the countryside in the proposed area is already under great strain from Little Raith and Mossmorran. Further development would degrade the landscape and that no more turbines should be considered for that area.
Chairperson Stevie Murray showed his concern that Lochgelly Community Council were not notified of the application, despite being a statutory consultee, and that no discussions with Lochgelly Community Council has been sought by the developers.
Fife Council had recommended refusal of the application based on very serious objections raised by the RSPB, and SNH, which included;
In assessing the proposal, SNH have provided some comments on the information submitted in support of the application and advise that in the photomontage VP05 (from Glenrothes golf course) the Mossmorran plant is not noticeable as it is obscured by trees, but in reality is prominent. It appears that the viewpoint has been microsited to avoid a “worst case scenario”.
With regards to landscape and visual impacts, the concerns expressed by SNH are shared by the Planning Authority. Whilst the proposal would be wholly and partially screened on an intermittent basis by topographical features, vegetation and built forms, both in a local context as well as from more distant locations, and would be located in proximity to other man-made structures (e.g. pylons, telecommunication masts and Mossmorran chemical works), the proposal would also be highly visible on a frequent intermittent basis when viewed from the immediate vicinity as well as from unobstructed/unscreened locations in the surrounding area. The proposal, in terms of its location, size, scale, number of turbines and its elevated upland position would significantly adversely affect the locally sensitive landscape…….
RSPB have commented on the ornithological assessments and have advised that they object to this proposal as they have concerns regarding the quality and accuracy of the assessment of the potential impacts of the proposed development……
The proposed development by virtue of its scale, size, number of turbines, prominent location and its close proximity to the adjacent approved wind turbines at Little Raith (08/01053/WEIA) and Mossmorran (11/01807/FULL) would have a detrimental cumulative visual impact on the landscape character, the skyline, local settlements of Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly and Cardenden including views along the A92 corridor and the Cullaloe Hills Local Landscape Area.
Despite these strong reasons for refusing the application, it was approved because a councillor (Susan Leslie) thinks they look prettier than turbines, and another councillor (George Kay) thought them better than nuclear plants, a comparison which shows the real lack of understanding of how the National Grid actually works.