Windfarm campaign groups join forces

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anti windfarm campaigners in north east Fife have joined forces following what has been dubbed a ’tsunami’ of turbine applications.

The East Fife Turbine Awareness Group has been formed by three north east Fife environmental groups involved in campaigns against controversial windfarm applications.

Two of them – Ceres and District Environment and Amenity Protection Group and Auchtermuchty Landscape and Environment Group – successfully took on the German giant Energie Kontor, while the third, Clatto Landscape Protection Group, is currently fighting plans by West Coast Energy for a seven-turbine development near Pitlessie.

In February 2008, a Scottish Government reporter turned down an appeal by Energie Kontor, who wanted to create a five-turbine windfarm at Rossie, near Auchtermuchty.

Then in June 2009 their plans for a windfarm at Gathercauld near Ceres were thrown out by the local area committee.

However, would-be developers appear not to have been deterred by such high-profile cases and according to the East Fife Turbine Awareness Group there has been a huge upsurge in applications, especially since the introduction of the Feed-in Tariff scheme in April 2010 under which people are paid for creating their own ‘green’ energy.

DRAMATISE

Graham Lang of Ceres and District Environment and Amenity Protection Group told the Fife Herald that while he did not wish to ‘over-dramatise’ the situation, there had been what one councillor had described as a ‘tsunami’ of turbine applications since September 2009 and since last month the pace had picked up even more.

He explained that the group’s new website, www.eftag.info, had been launched as a service to the community at large.

“For individuals being aware of a turbine application that can affect their amenity is important as it provides an opportunity to engage in the planning process,” he said.

“While all applications are advertised, not everyone who might be affected by a development studies the public notices in the local papers.

DIFFICULTY

“There is a further difficulty and that is the very limited scope of neighbour notification.

“This is now dealt with by Fife Council.

“Neighbouring land is identified as: ‘An area or plot or land which, or part of which, is conterminous with, or within 20 metres of the boundary of the land for which the development is proposed’.

“Someone could therefore be a very near neighbour to a turbine proposal and not be entitled to be notified.

“An applicant has no legal obligations in this context though a good neighbour should have a moral one.”

The website maps out the sites of applications on the eastern side of the Kingdom that have been lodged with Fife Council between September 2009 and May this year.

A total of 59 applications have been submitted to the local authority, of which 25 have been approved by officials under delegated powers and four approved at committee level, which is required when five or more objections are received.

Another 14 are still to be determined, nine have been withdrawn and just one has been refused.

In addition, there have been six screening applications, which means that the applicant has asked whether an environemntal impact assessment is required.

Mr Lang added that the mapping could also be useful to people considering moving to the area and to agents acting for buyers or sellers where it is important to be aware of any applications nearby that could affect the attractiveness of the property they are selling.