Plans have been formally submitted for the Helensburgh Community Wind Farm, a £7.5m project which could generate 4MW of electricity annually for 25 years.
The project promises to generate at least £40,000 per year for good causes in Helensburgh although its site at Tom na h-Airidh hill is actually in Rhu and Shandon Community Council’s area.
Profits from the five 86,5-metre turbines would be split three ways, between landowners Luss Estates, Green Cat Renewables Ltd and Helensburgh Community Development Trust.
The application to Argyll and Bute Council includes dozens of photomontages and a 260-page Environmental Impact Assessment.
This argues against last year’s scoping report by the council – first revealed here – which said that 50-metres would be the maximum height for turbines in that area, saying with restriction at least 16 turbines would have been needed.
And fears that the development would affect tourism are dismissed – although the bizarrely the area’s leading tourism attraction is listed as ‘Helensburgh Launderette’, with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh masterpiece Hill House in second place.
The report argues: “During the lifespan of the project it is likely that investment by the Helensburgh Community Trust in local projects and improvement schemes will create jobs, both in the long and short term.
“If the road and garden improvements and beach front regeneration should go ahead then local contractors will be used to carry out this work.
“Similarly, if the food bank, community centre, and youth groups are set up then this will create a number of both full and part time jobs within the local community.”
It adds that more than £1.5m of the construction spending would be with local business, from electrical and civil engineering companies to fencers and hoteliers.
A 50-metre anemometer mast at the site was given planning permission earlier this year, but the report acknowledges that the wind farm itself will create ‘a degree of visual and environmental impact’.
The council’s scoping report is acknowledged, but the report responds: “It is our contention that the proposed design sits well within the landscape context and is appropriate for the location.
“We believe that the potentially adverse effects resulting from the proposal will be off-set by the positive effects associated, notably in terms of the contribution it will make to the local economy, regional energy objectives and national renewable energy targets.
“It was found that as well as relating well to the local landscape the addition of this development would not serve to dominate or control the horizon, creating a well-balanced and uncomplicated wind turbine layout that was in scale with the landscape.
“The considered location down the eastern slope of Tom na h-Airdh was found to mitigate the visual prominence effect of the development, offer additional screening from local topography and make use of Tom na h-Airdh as a backdrop.
“This resulted in a significant reduction in the potential landscape and visual impact from key sensitive areas such as the National Park.”
The plan was first announced in January 2013 and since then 14 local consultation events have been held, although these led to just 65 questionnaires being completed; the team have urged locals to ‘be pragmatic’ and support the plan.
Access to the site would be from the A818, and it would be expected to generate annually an electricity output of approximately 9,800MWh – equivalent to the average domestic consumption of over 2,200 homes.
Full details, including more photomontages, are available at the council’s website – look for application number 14/01674/PP