Planners’ blow for community wind farm

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 proposed location on the Rosneath Peninsula
The proposed location on the Rosneath Peninsula

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

22 Comments

  1. Quote….
    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’…….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.”

    So in other words while we are too insignificant and unattractive to be included in the National Park and it is okay for military installations to be dumped on our doorstep. This certainly puts in black and white Scottish Natural Heritage’s attitude to surrounding communities that they have to remain subservient to the National Park while receiving no spin off benefits. Does this policy apply to every major route to the Park throughout Scotland, from airports, ferry terminals and motorways? If so can someone explain to me the windfarm on the M74!

  2. What I don’t understand about the SNH comments is that the trust seems to have been warned that the turbines were too big but went ahead anyway. That seems like a very strange thing to do.

  3. No it’s okay for this area as it is ‘undistinguished’ Don’t make the mistake of thinking we are in the same bracket as the National Park, we are grudgingly acknowledged as a pivotal location as part of the “landscape experience of the approach to the highlands”.

    So in other words we don’t matter to anyone as usual, its been the case since the 1930s, I don’t know why I even expect anything else.

  4. At last someone is hopefully going to put a stop to this monstrosity once and for all. Why do people not listen when they are told (Trust). These people have forgotten more than the Trust know, so listen to the experts for once and take note. TO BIG. So listen and absorb SNH and others comments and back out before the egg is all over everyone’s face.

  5. Yes, agreed – size is an issue because the council’s clear policy is no more than 50m in that sort of area. I wonder if the trust convener will view the importance of professional officers’ views in the same way as he did when the NP objected: “We are very disappointed that the national park planning committee did not agree with the opinion of their professional officers,”

  6. Glad someone does. I can’t believe nothing is forthcoming from the trust and not one update to let people know what is happening. It has now been nearly 4 months since their web page has been updated. I just hope the people who are lending the money for this project are looking at their organisation and management skills. I’m sure if I was a financial backer I would be putting my money somewhere with better organisation, management and TRUST.

    • They are volunteers, they don’t do this for a living; in any case all they’re likely to say is either ‘No comment’ or ‘We’re disappointed that the planning officers are advising refusal, but hope that the arguments laid down in the EIA are persuasive with the councillors on the planning committee’.

      The money so far has been raised from grant aid specifically designated for green energy projects, many of which get refused planning; it is not available for any other kind of project, so without planning a windfarm the money would not be available to the Trust at all. I’m sure the Community and Energy Renewable Scheme, the Big Lottery Fund and the Climate Challenge Fund will be disappointed if that happens, but it won’t be the first time a green energy project has failed to get planning permission and it won’t be the last either.

      If you feel your organisational skills could add something to the Trust, why not volunteer?

  7. Yet again sniping and innuendo about the trust. Whether you agree with a wind farm or not I think it is damned unfair to constantly imply sinister goings on within the Trust. Dirty tactics should be beneath anyone with true conviction of their facts/opinions. I know some very nice decent members of the Trust who just want to build a future for this community have been slated by people who have contributed jack-sh-t to the area and probably won’t even be here in five or ten years time so have no vested interest in the community’s resources in perpetuity. Everyone has their views but let’s not descend back into the land of conspiracy theories

  8. Del B: is it me you’re taking issue with? What have I said that’s dirty? I just commented (most recently) on a key issue and reminded people of a public comment. And I’ve lived here longer than some trust directors, and not going anywhere, but that doesn’t give me any rights.

  9. Who do: no you have only stated facts as you see them and have commented on the trust’s judgement of the situation which is perfectly fine.

    I felt Steven was increasingly drifting towards slag the Trust territory that we’ve been in before in previous threads and I admit to being quick to jump on it but it’s all become very unpleasant at times with peoples motivation questioned and “what’s in for them” being said quite often Great conspiracy theories have been thrown about with no foundation.

  10. Facts. that is all I have stated. The trust was advised by SNH FACT, they didn’t take any notice FACT. There has been no update on their web site FACT. Who would lend money to an organisation that does not inform their members and other interesting parties of what is going on for four months FACT. So when you mention being unpleasant, what is unpleasant about asking perfect relevant questions? I’m sorry but the truth sometimes is not nice.

    • What is there to update about that Julian hasn’t already put up here? Until the Planning Committee meet to decide on it there isn’t anything to tell; the Trust Directors have as much information as you or I.

      • 4 months and you say there was nothing to update. So in other words nothing concerning the project of any importance has taken place, I find this very difficult to believe, (SNH Remarks, LLNP Comments). Some people do not troll blogs so how else can people be informed. Only 2 emails from the trust to members in 6 months informing them of any news. One question, could you tell me is the big lottery fund money just for green projects? No so by wasting this money on this project we have deprived a good cause from perfectly genuine funding, such projects like encouraging people to take part in physical activity 2014. So personally I think some of the money spent has been a wasted and could have been put to better use. Therefore it is not true that this money was only available for this type of project. Sorry I don’t agree in wasting tax payer’s money. This is what is occurring now, in the form of another £3000 having to be spent to inform supporters and objectors of the outcome. I would like to know how anyone can justify this, when the council is making cuts across Argyll and Bute.

        • The £3000 is being spent by the council meeting their statutory obligations with regard to informing interested parties about the planning application; the council cannot ignore statutory obligations. Aside from the Big Lottery grant of £49,720, the funding is for green energy projects only; the Big Lottery Fund disburses £600 million per annum, so this sum is not depriving anyone of anything. If the they or the other funding bodies refused grant funding to every project that was subject to planning permission, not much would get done at all. You disagree with the project; that is your right, but describing it as a waste of money is misleading as there is significant local support for it and the funding bodies exist to issue grants for this kind of project.

          • There is also significant local objection. If planning had never been submitted then £3000 would not need to be spent. And still no news from the trust.

  11. Did I say you had been unpleasant Steven? I referred to previous occasions on previous threads on this subject. Unless you were involved in those threads I see no reason for you to jump to that assumption.

    Who do made perfectly valid points about the Trust being warned about turbine size which you followed by implying that no update on the website is somehow sinister and or incompetent.

    Perhaps there were just no new material facts to report until the planning committee and council met. What new facts about the project could possibly have need urgently updating during this period? What is it you think is being hidden? This is why i said “lets not descent back into the land of conspiracy theories”.

    “the truth is sometimes is not nice” true, but what is the truth? We all have our own perception of it. Mine is that while the truth may not always be nice, hopefully we can be civilised if we can’t quite manage to be nice.

  12. “The problem with the Trust is they do not listen or reply to perfectly simple and helpful suggestions posted on their Website. Most of the Community Action Plan could be delivered for little or no money. The paltry couple of things they have attempted to do are not in the CAP and with the ‘help’ of the Trust they have verged on failure or failed completely. If the Trust’s vision of the future is anything like their performance so far, they would be better to stay out of village life.”

    • I’m sure the Trust would be delighted to hear details of how to provide most of the Action Plan for gratis; you should contact them and share your knowledge.

  13. DB I have now emailed the TRUST twice in 3 days trying to pass on things. Guess what not one word back not even a thanks you. You still trust these people, well see if you can get an answert and please let me know.or are you one of the people who has also been told to keep quiet and do not speak just like several other people in the village?

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