West Sands Visitor Centre turbine plans blown away

An artist's impression of West Sands visitor centre without wind turbines.

An artist's impression of West Sands visitor centre without wind turbines.

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Plans for wind turbines at the proposed West Sands Visitor Centre have been abandoned by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust amid growing opposition to the scheme.

In a statement this week, trust chief executive Amanda McFarlane said: “As an environmental charity we had hoped to make the building carbon neutral.

“However, it was more important that we listened to the concerns being raised about the impact which the turbines would have in this special landscape and we have therefore taken the necessary steps to allay those fears by removing the turbines.”

Mrs McFarlane is passionate about the project and warned if it didn’t get the go ahead now, it would never happen. She said: “This is the one and only chance we have - if we don’t go for it now, it will never happen and there will be nothing at West Sands.”

She added she hoped both the public and local business would support the trust’s ambitions to improve the experience of the area for residents and visitors alike and welcome the substantial investment in the town.

The trust is bidding for funding of more than £1.2 million from the Coastal Communities Fund in the last year that such funding will be available.

The plans had included five 15-metre tall wind turbines, based on those used at London’s Olympic Park, to help make the centre self-sufficient for power. There continue to be plans for a biomass plant on the site.

Objectors to the proposal offer mixed messages – St Andrews Preservation Trust supports it, but also calls for a single storey structure with a larger footprint.

And the Links Trust, which previously backed the planning application, has now retracted that support, based on the presence of the “visually intrusive”wind turbines and describing the building as “overbearing”.

It said: “St Andrews Links is the most renowned golf complex in the world; aspects of this development have the potential to damage the authenticity and reputation of the golf course experience.Views across the West Sands ... will be affected in a significantly adverse manner.”

Links Trust added: “This is neither in the interests of the Trust, the town of St Andrews nor Fife.”

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club has described the scale and appearance of the plan as “entirely inappropriate in this setting, as is the incorporation of wind turbines and biomass plant.”

Nationally, though, there is support. Scottish Natural Heritage said: “The West Sands area hosts a wealth of nature, and a custom built, sustainable facility that inspires and educates visitors and encourages appropriate access to the site would be very helpful.

“An innovative design seems appropriate for an iconic setting such as the West Sands.”