A public hearing will make the final decision on plans for the UK’s biggest community wind farm.
More than 2,500 people have made comments on the Cove Community Wind Farm, so Argyll and Bute councillors today decided that a hearing was needed.
The plans by the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust were opposed by council officers, but they advised that a discretionary hearing should be held because there was so much public interest.
A total of 1,413 people wrote to the council in support of the plans for five 92-metre turbines, which would generate over £300,000 for the communities in Cove, Kilcreggan, Peaton, Portkil and Ardpeaton.
But 1,108 comments in opposition have been lodged by members of the public, as well as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park .
Planning officer Richard Kerr told the meeting that the site was in a ‘pivotal situation’ in relation to the Clyde; the site was below the ridgeline of the Rosneath Peninsula and the aim was to generate revenue so that a community action plan could be delivered.
He said a discretionary hearing would be the best option, ‘on this strength of representations both from the public and community councils’.
Committee chair Sandy Taylor agreed and the committee unanimously supported this.
Islay councillor Robin Currie pointed out: “This will cost nearly £3,000 to keep the objectors and supporters in touch and tell them if there is an outcome.”
But head of governance and law Charles Reppke said the mailing costs were in line with best practice and normal for this type of hearing.
Cllr George Freeman said these costs were not unusual for fish farm and wind farm applications, although in this case comments had come from as far afield as Pennsylvania.
He asked for the hearing to be held at Cove Burgh Hall, but Mr Reppke said the decision would be taken by the committee chair who would compare that with the Victoria Halls in Helensburgh.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) was against the plan, warning 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’.
MoD contractors Denbridge Marine and Scottish Water also lodged holding objections, saying the line of sight for a microwave link would be affected.
The 50-page report for today’s (Wednesday’s) meeting said a key issue was 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 Lochside Press