Significant blow for Lingo windfarm plan

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Controversial plans to create a windfarm in the countryside near St Andrews have come under fire from Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

The heavyweights have joined the ever-growing list of objectors - including three community councils - to the proposals by a Welsh-based energy company for farmland north of the B940, between Largoward and Dunino, to instal a capacity of 12.5MW consisting of five 102-metre high turbines and with an individual blade length of 40 metres, on a line running west to east at Lingo and South Kinaldy Farms.

Aan artist's impression of the view of the proposed turbines from Kinaldy

Aan artist's impression of the view of the proposed turbines from Kinaldy

The community councils of Cameron, Carnbee and Arncroach and Boarhills and Dunino are also against the proposals by West Coast Energy.

The level of opposition of more than 400 objections has buoyed members of the local campaign group, STACK - Stop Turbines At Cameron/Kinaldy - who are fighting the windfarm project.

Its chairman, Dr David King, said that Scottish Natural Heritage was scathing in its objections to the firm’s proposals.

He explained that in its letter of opposition to Fife Council, SNH repeatedly criticises the company’s Environmental Statement as ‘‘inadequate’’ and ‘‘not in accordance with guidelines’’ that it made ‘‘any worthwhile evaluation extremely difficult.’’

SNH, he said, also maintain that locating one of the turbines in an area of known bat habitat is ‘‘not best practice’’ and disagrees with the firm’s interpretation of its badger surveys and recommends further survey work. It criticises Atmos Consulting Ltd for ‘‘extremely poor practice’’ in its appraisal of Cameron Reservoir, an internationally-protected area for certain bird species, such as over-wintering pink-footed geese, and advises Fife Council to carry out further assessment since the turbines will have ‘‘a significant effect’’ on them.

Meanwhile, Historic Scotland has recommended that planning permission be refused for the project because of ‘‘its adverse effect’’ on the setting of Pittarthie Castle, a scheduled ancient monument 250-metres east of the site, as it is ‘‘contrary to both national policy and the development plan.’’

EXCEPTIONAL

A spokesman said: ”As scheduled monuments are of national importance, any exceptional circumstances justifying development in this location would have to carry a similar weight of national importance. This has not been demonstrated in this case.”

Pittarthie Castle, a late 16th century tower house, is the dominant feature in an otherwise open rural landscape. Historic Scotland describes the turbines as ‘‘towering vertical modern structures’ whose prominence and location would supplant the dominance of Pittarthie and would ‘significantly reduce our appreciation and understanding of the relationship between the monument and its setting.’’

Although at present a ruin, Historic Scotland says Pittarthie Castle is listed on the Castle Conservation Register and could be successfully restored and reused. It warns Fife Council that ‘‘the construction of a windfarm in such close proximity to the monument could affect the viability of any future restoration project.’’

Meanwhile, a vote of residents organised by Cameron Community Council delivered only 10 in favour and 123 against the windfarm. In neighbouring Carnbee and Arncroach, 44 voted for and 66 against.

Cameron Community Council chairman, Gordon Ball, said: ”The community council has always tried to maintain a neutral stance until the views of the community were known. We now have a clear mandate to oppose this development and have written to Fife Council to that effect.”

STACK say that Boarhills and Dunino Community Council - in whose area three of the five Lingo turbines would be located - has also lodged a strong formal objection with Fife Council.

Dr King added: ”The results were not unexpected. The Lingo turbines are too big, too many and too close to too many people.The message for West Coast Energy is to go back to Wales, and think again.

”Historic Scotland very rarely objects to windfarm applications so this is a major setback.’’