A packed and sometimes heated public meeting yesterday (Saturday) heard more details of plans for the UK’s biggest community wind farm.
Photo montages were on display in Cove Burgh Hall and the ‘briefing’ session lasted for over 90 minutes.
More than 140 people were at Saturday’s public meeting organised by Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust.
Trust convener Murdo MacDonald said the final scheme for the Cove Community Wind Farm followed consideration of more than 100 alternative options.
“There have been many occasions throughout the process when we thought we were sunk,” he said.
“This is a big deal. A lot of communities might well have looked at this and said they can’t do it.”
An environmental statement costing £183,000 would support the design, he added, and it had found there were ‘simply no issues’ with noise or ‘flicker’ from the turbines, while Argyll and Bute Council and SNH ‘say we are along the right lines’.
One member of the public said the right to roam in that area would be lost and asked about bird life: “We have got ospreys in Coulport who fly this ridge to fish in the Lindowan Loch.”
Mr MacDonald said the environmental statement had a chapter on ornithology and this had been checked, while the public would still be able to walk around the turbines.
He added that the government income was guaranteed: “When you sign your contract you are guaranteed that income for 20 years plus the RPI – you’re grandfathered in.”
There were passionate speeches from the floor about how the community could benefit from the surplus of more than £300,000 per year which is anticipated, but also doubts about both the project and the public vote – see separate story.
But Myrth Russell, who lives on Barbour Road, said she would be the nearest resident to the turbines: “Until today we rather thought that they were going to be much further south, so it’s kind of curious to come here today and find we have a halo of these turbines around our house and behind us.
“It is a curious thing but I think it is a great idea, I am all for it – it will just be a bit strange for us.”
And Jamie Black drew a contrast with a £4.2m redevelopment near his home in Gourock, where there had very poor consultation, with only been a handful of people at a public meeting and issues then had to be addressed once the planning process was under way: “ It’s inspiring to see everyone here,” he said.
Although an anemometer has been near the site for more than a year this has not been used in calculating the financial information.
Instead NOABL (Numerical Objective Analysis of Boundary Layer ) wind data has been used, showing an average speed of 8.2 metres per second; the anemometer figures are ‘for the banks and for the manufacturers’, he said.
Calculations have assumed turbine efficiency of 30%; the trust will bar the cost of decommissioning with cash which will be ring-fenced from the outset, while the manufacturer – not yet confirmed – will take care of maintenance.
It is still not decided whether the connection to the national grid at Whistlefield will be underground or via poles.