THE firm behind controversial plans for a windfarm in the Howe of Fife has apologised to local people amid confusion about the level of financial benefits the community would receive should the plans go ahead.
West Coast Energy has scaled down its application for a windfarm at Clatto Hill in Devon Wood and is now seeking permission to erect five turbines at a height of 115m each instead of the seven 121m turbines that were originally proposed.
That means that people living in the surrounding communities would receive almost £20,000 less per year than the firm originally promised.
However, information circulated by West Coast Energy was said to be ‘insufficiently clear’ and residents of Kettle, Kennoway and Star of Markinch were left in the dark about how much they would receive if the plans are approved when they come up before north east Fife area committee on February 22.
In a letter to key community contacts, development and project manager Jonathan Cawley apologised for the confusion and said that the community benefit package was still based on a payment of £3500 per megawatt per year for 25 years, but the proposed reduction in the number of turbines would mean an annual income of £43,750 and not the £61,250 that would have been generated had the application still been for seven turbines.
Rev. Richard Baxter, chair of the local community liaison forum, also issued a statement clarifying the situation – but stressed that a community benefit trust would not been formally constituted unless and until the developer obtained planning permission.
“While the community benefit package is certainly not the central issue for consideration by those involved in the planning process, clear information relating to it may be helpful,” he said.
“A community benefit proposal on the initial application was negotiated between West Coast Energy and the community liaison forum.
“This provided for a payment of £3500 per annum for 25 years on each megawatt of installed capacity.
“In practice, the potential community benefit package amounts to £61,250 per annum for 25 years on the original proposal and £43,750 per annum for 25 years on the reduced proposal, in each case index linked to take account of inflation.
“Some of the materials circulated on behalf of the developer were insufficiently clear on this distinction.”