Plea to ‘grasp opportunity’ of wind farm – as planners warn they will probably oppose it

A photomontage of how the turbines could look from Rosneath
A photomontage of how the turbines could look from Rosneath

Helensburgh’s residents have been urged to ‘grasp the opportunity’ of a community wind farm in an open letter released this week.

The appeal by Ian Fraser of Helensburgh Renewables came days after planners seemed to deliver another blow to the project for five 86.5-metre turbines.

In an unusual move, an official at Argyll and Bute Council has written to the developers saying it is ‘unlikely’ that they will be able to support the project, ‘due mainly to impacts on the national park but also for other reasons including impact on the Inner Clyde area’.

The letter also notes that the RSPB has said the application lacks the level of detail required, and highlights objections by Scottish Natural Heritage, Rhu and Shandon Community Council, air traffic authorities and Glasgow Airport.

But a spokesperson for the developers behind the project – Helensburgh Renewables, Luss Estates and Green Cat Renewables – said that the application would not be withdrawn, while Mr Fraser released an open letter.

He says that more than £100,000 per year would be generated for local causes by the project at Tom na h’Airidh hill – Helensburgh Renewables’ website states: “In a normal year we would expect our share to be around £130,000. Even in years of exceptionally low wind, the community will receive £40,000 as a minimum.”

The open letter is reproduced in full below

Many comments have been made recently regarding Helensburgh Community Council’s decision to back the planning application for 5 wind turbines above Helensburgh. We are in danger of forgetting why this application to Argyll and Bute council was made in the first place. So let’s wind the clock back to December 2009.

Five years ago, at a meeting of HCC, of which I am a member, a discussion took place about the town’s dismal Christmas lights. I asked why Helensburgh, unlike many other towns, does not have a Common Good which could be used for such projects. An Argyll and Bute councillor asked ‘how would I fund one’, so I researched the possibilities and I found that wind turbines were the solution.

Fast forward to 2014, and Helensburgh features at the top end of the scale on The Scottish Government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation. Our town has a food bank, and it is used. Who would ever have thought that a town like Helensburgh would ever have such challenges? When I started this back in 2009 I did not know this. Now I do and so do your community councillors, which is why they have backed Helensburgh Community Wind Farm. The need for a Common Good Fund is greater than ever.

Helensburgh Community Wind Farm is for 25 years. In that time we expect it will earn in excess of £4m for the community. We are talking about £100,000 PA in the first years before it ramps up. We will be generating our own community funds from which we can access match funding pound for pound. This is all money which could be used for capital projects as well as helping these who need it. In short, we are talking about Direct Benefit to the community, hard cash in the community’s own bank account.

The Community Wind Farm’s detractors are implying that they have only just discovered that the turbines will be visible. The truth is that from the very start visibility was a given, freely admitted and always addressed by those of us behind the proposals.

When the Helensburgh Advertiser asked for local people’s opinions, one woman summed it up: if the financial benefits for the town outweigh the appearance of the wind farm then she was for the idea. That is what this is all about: creating a fund of money which can be used for the benefit of the people who live here.

At the end of the 25 year term, we will return the land to as near to its current state as possible – unless the new generation of Helensburgh folk wish otherwise.

In the meantime, this current generation should grasp this opportunity and let Helensburgh change for the better, for the sake of both our town and our community.

Ian Fraser, Helensburgh Renewables

6 Comments

  1. I would like to know where the figures of 25 years were taken from? I would imagine these have been taken from the turbine manufacturer who will state anything to sell their products however these figures are more likely to be 15 years and so what happens to the community benefits for these lost years?
    Also I would like to know why the planning application is not adhering to A and B planning policy of no turbines over 50m. I have now asked this question on several occasions and are still waiting for an answer.. I guess I will still be waiting when hopefully this application gets refused.

  2. Judging by the fact that there is already a road been laid. On the opposite side of the glen from the Haul road. That all interested parties, in favour of the turbines, must think that planning will be granted.
    If planning is granted, it will lead to another application for more turbines to be erected.
    I have no problem with wind turbines. If they are out in the open sea.

  3. A really interesting letter. Does this set a precedent now? No longer is it money in brown envelopes, it’s a public bribe to allow these developers to get their way? Next time a controversial housing application comes up, are the developers now allowed to openly bribe communities to clamp down on objectors?

    Mr Fraser – can you state on this public forum how many wind farm/turbine applications there have been within a 20mile radius from this proposal, and where are these? I’m not going to give the game away, it should come from you. Please share exactly how many applications there have been, and how many turbines that would amount to.

    Thanks.

  4. I would also ask Mr Fraser where this money comes from? Had he ever considered that this is not ‘new money’, in fact, the only reason that wind turbines are viable is through government subsidy. Government subsidy paid for by taxes and….higher energy bills. Paid for…by the population, including people in Helensburgh. In fact, it can be argued that some people need to use foodbanks because of pressure on finances, coming from the likes of….escalting fuel costs…created by …subsidising uneconomical wind turbines!

    So I would then ask Mr Fraser to consider that the very poverty he claims to be able to alleviate is actually CREATED by wind farms like this, when the ‘Community Benefit’ is skimming a small amount off the vast profits made by the developers…all at huge cost to the tax payer. It’s a viscious circle and your wind farm application actually makes the situation worse, not better. The policies of the Scottish Government actually contribute to fuel poverty. Far better that subsidies for these white elephants stopped, councils were allowed to set their own taxes and they might actually be able to better afford the services and niceties that may be lacking.

    Don’t let the promise of big cheques fool you Mr Fraser – I would put money that there is not a guarantee of ANY sort that you will get any set value, only a whole load of ‘if, but and maybe’s. You’ll be landed with a whole set of turbines, spoiling the stunning scenery for miles around, and bringing no benefit to the community….but it’ll all be worth it regardless, eh?

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