‘We can make a difference on wind farm plan’, villagers are told

Residents in Rhu and Shandon are being urged to make their voice heard if they object to plans for a community wind farm in their area.

But the team behind the £7.5m Helensburgh Community Wind Farm are organising an exhibition about the project – and have defended a key document which seems to show a laundrette as the area’s main tourism attraction.

The possible view of the turbines from Cairndhu Point
The possible view of the turbines from Cairndhu Point

The Save Our Rhu Bay group – formed last year in a successful campaign against the controversial development of Rhu Marina – is highlighting that the site for the wind farm is actually within the Rhu and Shandon area – although it aims to raise at least £40,000 per year for Helensburgh.

Villager Alastair Moore said: “Most locals are stunned at the prospect of wind farms here and as the realisation of the location of Rhu is being absorbed there are concerns for our local landscape and the prominence of five wind turbines in our sensitive countryside.”

Other concerns include the effects on tourism, local businesses, wildlife and house values.

“Many locals wonder why Helensburgh Renewables actually continued with submission of plans for large 86-metre high wind turbines against the advice and guidance of the council’s planning department and which is contrary to key planning policies,” he said.

“We feel it important for residents to consider all the information and facts and please do come forward to have your say, as communities do matter – we can make a difference together.”

Like the abortive Cove Community Wind Farm project, this wind farm is in an area where planning guidelines say turbines should be no higher than 50 metres – this was one of the key reasons why the Cove project was recommended for refusal.

Mr Moore is asking anyone who wishes to object to the plan to email save_our_rhu_bay@yahoo.com – including their name and postal code

The plan has been jointly developed by Helensburgh Renewables, wind farm specialists Green Cat and landowners Luss Estates.

Ian Fraser, managing director of Helensburgh Renewables – a subsidiary of the town’s community development trust – has told URTV that an exhibition will be held in the Tower centre on August 15 and 16 so that residents can learn more.

New photomontages of how the turbines could look are now on the Helensburgh Renewables website.

Meanwhile the developers have defending the apparently bizarre listing of tourism attractions in the 260-page Environmental Statement (ES) which accompanies the planning application.

Tourist trap? Helensburgh laundrette
Tourist trap? Helensburgh laundrette

This shows the town’s laundrette as top of the list, just above the Hill House, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

When asked if this was deliberate or an error, a spokesperson said this week: “As documented by the ES, tourism is important to the local economy, and in Table 5.6 the document lists popular tourist attractions and activities in the vicinity of the proposed community wind farm, indicating which fall within the zone of theoretical visibility.

“The destinations included are in no way ranked in order of importance or significance, and the locations listed are based on data gathered from VisitScotland’s website.”

The table does number the ‘destinations’, but the developers said: “The VisitScotland website does not rank the tourist destinations in order of any importance or significance and as such the report makes no attempt to do so either.

Top of the table - part of the list in the planning document
Top of the table – part of the list in the planning document

“Thus Table 5.6 ‘tourist attractions within 10km of the proposed development’ in the ES does not indicate any order of importance.”

They say that the data was compiled as follows:

Using the ‘Things to do and see’ tab on www.visitscotland.com, a search of things to do and see in and around Helensburgh was carried out.

Then using the map facility on the VisitScotland website to find their locations, all of the tourist destinations listed on the website within 10km of the proposed wind farm were mapped and included in the assessment.

The tourist destinations found to be within 10km of the proposed wind farm were then overlaid on to the zone of theoretical visibility of the development in order to establish which (if any) of the tourist destinations might have potential views of the development.

The full pdf of the Environmental Statement can be downloaded here (4mb document): Helensburgh Renewables ES

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