St Andrews University is to take its application for a windfarm at Kenly to the Scottish Government after criticising Fife Council for delays in making a decision on the project.
The university says it is ‘‘disappointed’’ the council has not determined the application after four years of discussions and believes it has better prospects of an objective settlement with an independent decision maker.
However, opponents of the scheme have criticised the university’s decision.
John Goodwin, chair of Kenly Landscape Protection Group (KLPG), said: “We unreservedly condemn the decision to appeal to the Scottish Government.
“The university has already defied advice from SNH and Fife Council’s planning department to reduce the height of its turbines and now it has turned its back on the councillors and the people who elected them.
“The university has used a technicality to by-pass the democratic decision-making process at Fife Council.
“Consultation with the local communities has been almost non-existent since it became clear they were overwhelmingly opposed to the windfarm. In the last 17 months it has only managed one meeting with Boarhills and Dunino Community Council.
“This appeal could trigger a public local inquiry and KLPG will raise funds from their very many supporters to play a full and active part in any appeal process that may be selected by a government reporter appointed by Scottish ministers.”
But the university has defended its decision and reiterated what benefits it believes the Kenly windfarm would bring.
“The KLPG have made their views clear, but happily we believe they are not representative of the majority opinion in the local communities of Boarhills, Kingsbarns and Dunino, nor do they speak for them,” a spokesman said.
“The development of a six-turbine windfarm on our land at Kenly is central to our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, to diminish our reliance on fossil fuels and to manage our own energy needs more effectively.
“The energy generated at Kenly will be used locally by us in St Andrews to support world-class teaching and research.
“The university already generates £300 million a year for the Scottish and Fife economies and our planned investment in a green facility at Kenly will increase that total and help to generate and protect local jobs.
“We remain fully committed to this very important project and are working very hard to secure appropriate planning consents.”
Fife Council has defended its handling of the Kenly application.
Mary Stewart, service manager at the council, said it was it was important that all the necessary information was available.
“The council also wants to make sure that local communities have the opportunity to consider and comment on the additional information submitted by the applicants and so we have re-advertised the application.
“The extra time spent on consultation means that the application could not be determined by the end of August as was originally envisaged.”