Proposals for the UK’s biggest community wind farm have been recommended for refusal by planners.
But the Cove Community Wind Farm is still expected to be decided by councillors at a special discretionary hearing – because more than 2,000 members of the public have made comments.
The five 92-metre turbines are expected to generate over £300,000 for the communities in Cove, Kilcreggan, Peaton, Portkil and Ardpeaton.
But the plans by the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust have proved hugely controversial – 1,408 people wrote to Argyll and Bute Council in support, with 1,050 against.
Supporters include MSPs Jackie Baillie and Patrick Harvie, as well as several councillors who are not members of the planning, protective services and licensing committee and Cove & Kilcreggan, Rosneath & Clynder and Inveraray community councils.
Opponents include MEP Struan Stevenson, celebrities Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath, Inverclyde Council, plus community councils in Dunoon, Kilmun, Hunters Quay, Cardwell Bay & Greenock West and Rhu & Shandon.
Crucially, objections were also lodged by Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) – the latter warned of ‘significant adverse landscape and visual impacts in relation to parts of the National Park and parts of the upper Firth of Clyde and adjacent coasts’ and said it would ‘erode the character of a highly sensitive coastal landscape and set an unwelcome precedent’.
The council officers’ 50-page report, which will be considered at a meeting in Lochgilphead next Wednesday, states that SNH had indicated to the trust at the pre-application stage that turbines of this size ‘would be unlikely to prove acceptable’.
It adds that although the local landscape is ‘undistinguished’ its location is important: “Turbines of the scale proposed would significantly affect the landscape experience of the approach to the highlands from the developed lowlands, particularly given the pivotal location of the site where the development will be exposed to large numbers of people for prolonged periods of time, including transport routes, ferry links, recreational areas and settlements.”
MoD contractors Denbridge Marine also lodged a holding obection, saying one turbine is in direct line of sight for a microwave link between Clach MaKenney and Ravenrock.
Although a discretionary hearing – probably in the autumn – is expected to make the final decision, the report for next week’s meeting recommends refusal , saying the principal issue is the scale of the turbines:
“Notwithstanding firstly, the contribution that this proposal could make towards combating climate change, and secondly, the community based nature of the proposal with its attendant potential to fund projects in the locality, development giving rise to locally inappropriate environmental consequences cannot be regarded as being sustainable, and consequently, the proposal is recommended for refusal.”
The officers’ report only makes recommendations however – the decision will be made by elected councillors.
The full report, which includes detailed accounts of the arguments in favour of and against the plans, is here: ROSNEATH PENINSULA WEST COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TRUST ERECTION OF FIVE WIND TURBINES UP TO 92.5M HIG