A third wind farm is being planned for the Firth of Clyde – with ten 110-metre turbines.
The Inverclyde Wind Farm would have a maximum generating capacity of 30MW at Corlic Hill near Greenock.
A previous scheme, by Airtricity for 23 turbines at the site, was rejected after a public inquiry, but Inverclyde Renewables say the new scheme addresses the reasons for that refusal.
However it would still be far larger than the five-turbine plans already proposed for Cove and Helensburgh, and would be visible from areas including Helensburgh and Kilcreggan – photomontages produced by the developers are near the bottom of this story.
A planning statement prepared for Inverclyde Council – an authority which opposed the Cove Community Wind Farm – says the site ‘does not support any habitats of value’, although wildlife includes otters, whooper swans, greylag geese, hen harriers, ospreys and peregrine falcons.
The document adds: “Cumulative effects on landscape character and visual amenity were assessed within a 35 km radius of the proposed turbine locations.
“The proposed Inverclyde wind farm was assessed in combination with existing wind farms and wind farms which were under construction; consented wind farms and wind farm proposals which are currently in the planning application determination process.
“The assessment found that the cumulative effect on landscape character receptors and designations would be not significant in all scenarios.”
Maps comparing the visual impact of other existing and potential developments are included – including the Cove site below.
The site is part of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park (CMRP), but the developers say this is ‘not a nationally significant tourism asset or a driver of the local tourism economy’ – althoguh they do acknowledge it is ‘an important recreational asset for local residents’.
Photomontages show the ‘significant’ visual effect on Windy Hill, Cornalees and Greenock Cut Visitor Centre, but the developers state:
“The fact that the effect on these viewpoints would be significant does not necessarily imply that there would be any effect on visitor numbers to the CMRP.
“People visit the park to participate in one of the many activities available on site (e.g. cycling, sailing, paddle sports) and as such the proposed Inverclyde wind farm would not interfere with any of these activities and as such would not affect these visitors’ primary reason for visiting the park.”
Three wind farms – a quick comparison
Timing: Inverclyde – plans ratified in July 2013, no date yet for a decision; Cove – Argyll and Bute Council is holding a local hearing on September 17; Helensburgh – plans not yet submitted, local consultation due later this year.
Size: Inverclyde – ten 110-metre turbines; Cove – five 92-metre turbines; Helensburgh – five 86-metre turbines although ’74-metre machines may be used as a compromise’.
Community benefit: Inverclyde Renewables promise “the establishment of a community benefit fund amounting to some £5000 per MW of electricity generated per year”.
For Cove, the Rosneath Peninsula West Community Development Trust says between £300,000 and £400,000 annually will be generated for local causes for the first 15 years. This would rise for the following five years, after the loan is paid off, but then fall with the loss of government subsidy.
Helensburgh Renewables is a community-owned trading company which would run the site in partnership with wind farm specialists Green Cat Renewables Ltd and landowners Luss Estates Company; they say: “As long as the project is in profit the community will receive a minimum of £40,000 per annum with any balance shared between the other partners, if profits are greater than £120,000 then these will be split equally between the partners. In an average wind speed year this should deliver around £130,000 to the community raising to approximately £550,000 when the loan has been paid off after year 12.”
For more details and to comment on the plans, go to Inverclyde Council’s website and search for application 13/0199/IC.