Opposition continues to mount against controversial plans by St Andrews University to develop a windfarm on land it owns a few miles from the town, amid claims that it will have a devastating effect on tourism and local businesses.
“Ill-conceived, selfish and disastrous for the local economy,” is the verdict on the project from the directors of a proposed £20 million golf and leisure complex at Feddinch, just south of St Andrews.
In a letter of objection to Fife Council, Ewan McKay, on behalf of the Feddinch developers, questions the university’s rationale of siting the six 100-metre high turbines - with 40-metre blades - at Kenly Farm, near Boarhills, within sight of the ‘Home of Golf.’
The objection follows hot on the heels of that submitted by the owners of the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort and Spa, which claimed that a windfarm will wreck the town’s iconic setting and threaten growth and jobs in the tourism, golf and leisure sectors.
Mr McKay stated many large institutional buildings, such as hospitals, now source heat and light from biomass and maintained these would be “a much better solution and could be more efficient” than wind turbines.
He added: ”If the university are minded to consider the opinion of those living in and around St Andrews, then they should spend time selecting a site in an area better suited, one with more wind and in a much less populated area.
“The clubhouse plans at Feddinch incorporate some 41 luxurious suites, many of which will have a full view of the Kenly wind turbines. While this is of deep concern, as it may reduce member numbers, we are convinced that people throughout the world will stare in disbelief when the Open Championship returns to St Andrews in 2015 and the cameras take into picture the wind turbines. That may be a source of immense and regrettable embarrassment for a long, long time.”
Concerns about the adverse impact of industrial wind power developments near important tourist and golf destinations in Scotland have increased substantially since Donald Trump began his campaign against an offshore windfarm by his £750 million luxury golf course in Aberdeenshire.
In recent weeks, the Scottish Golf Union – which represents around 600 clubs and 250,000 golfers – the Aberdeen City and Shire Hotel Association and a number of golf tour operators have echoed Trump’s concern that windfarms risk undermining golf tourism.
Mr McKay predicted that the 12.3 megawatt Kenly development will “dissuade many from visiting St Andrews,” which will have a detrimental effect not only on tourism in general, but also on the local economy.
“The university may well benefit from reduced electricity prices, but businesses in and around St Andrews may well ultimately pay the price,” he concluded.
Graham Lang, of the East Fife Turbine Awareness Group, said: “From industrial-scale wind farms to back-garden turbines, Fife is facing a torrent of applications. St Andrews is at risk of being ringed by turbines as more and more developers jump on the subsidy bandwagon.”
A spokesman for Kenly Landscape Protection Group added:”Many individuals and businesses are very worried the university windfarm will harm the local economy.
‘‘ The prospect of 328-foot whirring turbines is already damaging investor confidence in the area and the university should consider its wider responsibilities to the people of Fife.”
Tom Burns, of the Stop the St Andrews University Windfarm Facebook Group, said: ”The university needs to do more research.
‘‘The evidence shows windfarms are not green. They are inefficient, carbon-expensive ways of milking the subsidy system.
“In my opinion, they wreck their immediate environment, mar the landscape for miles around and severely impact on the quality of life of residents and visitors alike.”