Be pragmatic, wind farm team urge Helensburgh

The turbines as they would be seen from the reservoir above Helensburgh
The turbines as they would be seen from the reservoir above Helensburgh

Helensburgh has become known as a ‘banana town’ – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone – claim the team behind plans for a community wind farm above the town.

And Helensburgh Community Development Trust say Argyll and Bute Council has a £50m ‘black hole’ in its finances, so with little likelihood of spending from that quarter they plan to develop a local common good fund.

As revealed here in September, the proposals for five 86-metre turbines have already hit problems with planning officers, who say they are too big for the site.

The turbines would be visible from areas including the Rosneath Peninsula, Dunoon, Inverclyde and parts of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park..

But the trust argues that the site above Helensburgh already has electricity pylons and an oil pipeline going through it, so the turbines ‘will not change its essential character’.

Trust managing director Ian Fraser said attendance at a two-day exhibition of the plans in the Victoria Halls had been disappointing, but the team would continue trying to publicise the project to local people.

“A degree of pragmatism is required here,” said a statement available at the event: “Times are hard, and there is not a lot of money about.

“Helensburgh is known in some quarters as a Banana town. We are now in the running for a Plook on a Plinth award!

“This should bring it home to people that it is time for a change in attitude – instead of telling everyone how hard done to Helensburgh is, we can get hold of ourselves and make some money for the town without doing any lasting harm to anyone or the environment.”

In an attempt to answer objections, they say: “We have tried to be as sensitive as possible with the siting of the turbines, their height and their installed capacity.

“These are the smallest commercial machines which make financial sense, as lower and smaller turbines will generate much less energy.

“We believe that we have managed to design a scheme that fits within the landscape of this site despite being slightly larger than the recommended 50-metres tall.”

The trust, landowners Luss Estates and Biggar firm Green Cat Renewables Ltd have signed heads of terms agreement and are equal partners in the project.

They say they accept that historic NOABL wind data figures are often optimistic, have seen the disappointing wind readings for the abortive Cove Community Wind Farm, but are still confident the project will deliver enough community benefit to be worthwhile.

The development trust would take the first £40,000 in any year, with a three-way split between the partners only kicking in after the £120,000 barrier is passed.

The figures are well below the amount hoped for by the Cove wind farm, with the target amount of electricity produced being about a third of the Cove target.

“Although £40,000 does not sound like an enormous sum in a town our size, it is still more than we have just now, and remember that it could be very much more,” said the trust statement,  adding that the income would increase after 12 years, when the bank loan is paid off.

An Environmental Impact Assessment for the Helensburgh wind farm is due to be completed next month, but information boards at the exhibition said it had been established that there were no issues with wildlife such as birds of prey, black grouse and otters.


  1. I thought the Cove plan was awful but this is worse! How can it add up? We lose the view and people in Helensburgh get 40k a year? That won’t exactly sort out the pier!

  2. was the Trust managing director Mr Fraser not one of the main objectors to the development at the old school, fine ones to come out with the “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone” ummmmmmmmmmm

  3. “There were no issues with wildlife such as birds of prey, black grouse and otters”?
    So what about the Hen Harriers and Ospreys and Golden Eagles breeding within the area. These species were noted in the Cove application and many times in the local press and are breeding in the National Park. So can they explain how they get to the Cove area without moving through this proposed area? I think I can smell a rat again.

  4. Interesting – not only are they trying to bribe the community with a paltry 40k handout (let’s be honest, that’s not going to get much more than some bunting and plant pots), but they are now criticizing communities for not wanting these plooks on the landscape. Did someone already use the term plook – oh how ironic! The person quoting Helensburgh as being a ‘plook’ candidate it the very same person proposing erecting several of these plooks right next to Heensburgh, to be seen for miles!

    Mr Fraser may be interested to know that there is life outside Helensburgh. Taking Inverclyde as an example, in the last 12months, there have been plans on almost all points of the compass surrounding Inverclyde. Cove Community Windfarm, the Kilcreggan turbine, the Corlic Hill wind farm, various proposals around Cornalees/Flatterton, Innellan and now just over on Loch Long.

    Where does it end? There is no joined up thinking. We are at massive risk of the whole area we live in becoming surrounded by turbines. Remember that for those that have been canned, this was not by virtue of a central decision to say ‘enough is enough – this is the most beautiful and accessible area in central Scotland, let’s not desecrate it’, but only because of various fortuitious and random reasons.

    I would say to Mr Fraser – do you think that standing in Helensburgh and having windturbines to the right, straight ahead and behind is an attractive proposition?

    I don’t. The short term, dubious and inconsequential gains from these turbines is not worth the damage in the short and long term.

    My final point would be this – these turbines can only create revenue with substantial government subsidy. A novel idea would to be stop any wind farm subsidy and spead the money saved to communities directly. I would not be surprised if the residents of Helensburgh alone pay an extra £40k a year on their fuel bills to pay this subsidy already.

    Let’s not be fooled or bribed by this nonsense.

  5. Can anyone explain to me this phobia about seeing a wind turbine. They are magnificent feats of engineering with beautiful forms. Five turbines on the hill above the reservoir will become a landmark that we will all grow to love and even take our friends to see. We desperately need renewable energy. Scotland is in the forefront and can boast more renewable energy then anywhere in Britain and for that we should be proud. When I hear of the Nuclear Power station now given the go ahead at Hinkly Point in Somerset I am glad I live in Scotland. Now there you can start talking about subsides. Twice the going unit price for 35 years.( Wind Turbines have never been given or needed that sort of financial incentive) and no one has talked about the decommissioning costs of the nuclear power station. I can guarantee that that will be on the plates of our children and grand children in 35 years time. Don’t even talk about subsides. You have seen nothing yet.

  6. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I used to quite like these things when they first appeared but they seem to be everywhere now, and the cumulative impact around the Clyde from various plans could be dramatic.

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Public meeting called to debate wind farm « The Lochside Press
  2. Plans for £7.5m Helensburgh community wind farm submitted « The Lochside Press
  3. Evidence on wind farm plan ‘disturbing’, says community group « The Lochside Press
  4. Visual impact the key for wind farm, say developers after debate | The Lochside Press
  5. Plan for wind farm above Helensburgh withdrawn | The Lochside Press

Comments are closed.