The shape of things to come?

Numerous wind turbine schemes are at various stages of development in north east Fife
Numerous wind turbine schemes are at various stages of development in north east Fife

A UNIQUELY designed pair of wind turbines could be set to make their first Scottish appearance in the East Neuk.

North Baldutho Farm near Anstruther is the likely location for the two vertical axis turbines, both 95 feet in height and 225KW capacity, after they received the go-ahead from Fife Council’s north east area committee.

Lochty Farms of Anstruther, on behalf of Balcaskie Estate, had a revised bid for the structures approved, with conditions, after a previous application for larger vertical axis turbines was opposed by the Ministry of Defence.

Councillors, meanwhile, threw out bids for two other turbines at nearby South Baldutho Farm, one 151 feet tall and the other 156 feet.

Both had been recommended for approval, with conditions, by planning officers.

Another application, for three 220-foot (67m) turbines at Drumrack, Bonerbo and Balmonth Farms, near Anstruther, remains on the table, as it is under appeal.

No one from Balcaskie was available for comment, but the report before councillors concluded that the differently-designed turbines “raised no significant residential, ecological or visual issues” and complied with established policy and guidelines.

“The cumulative impact, based on the approved turbines in the area at this time, is not significant and the development, as proposed, is considered to be acceptable, subject to the conditions recommended,” said the report.

Matters raised by objectors of visual impact, cumulative issues, residential amenity and natural heritage had been addressed, the document added.

The two applications for South Baldutho Farm also went to a vote before being turned down on the grounds of being too close to residential properties, despite planners’ recommendations for approval.

One of them, the 46-metre (151-foot) 50KW turbine, proposed by local farmer David Peebles, was defeated on the casting vote of committee chair Councillor Frances Melville.

This followed a 6-6 split on whether the application should be refused – as proposed and seconded by East Neuk councillors Elizabeth Riches and Donald Macgregor – or continued for more information about cumulative impact.

Councillors also reviewed two near-identical applications for the three-farm turbine proposal and eventually agreed, after legal advice, to continue the matter.

After the application was registered, the developers lodged an appeal with Scottish Government ministers over the local authority’s non-determination – which, the committee heard, had been caused by the council elections earlier this year.

Cllrs Riches and Macgregor had moved that the application be approved, which was accepted on a vote.

However, when the second version of the application was considered later, legal advisers recommended the committee postpone a decision until after the Scottish Government Reporter’s decision on the appeal.

Campaigners, concerned about the effect of so many wind tubines on the landscape, were critical of the planning department after the meeting.

They said there was a lack of information on many aspects of the process, such as cumulative impacts, ranges of visibility and proper maps with countours showing the relative turbine heights.

A spokesman for SCALE (Save Carnbee & Arncroach Landscape & Environment) said: “What happens at these meetings is not just for the benefit of Fife councillors and officials but for the public, who are affected by the outcomes and have a real interest in seeing that applications are properly assessed.

“That is not happening and we are alarmed at what is happening to our landscape and amenity.”

Cllr Riches shared concerns about proper maps being unavailable but stressed that decisions were very difficult and no councillor took them lightly.

A tremendous number of reports, emails and calls had to be weighed up, she added, and there was a lot of work required before items went to committee.

EAST Neuk farmer David Peebles said he would be appealing against the rejection of the turbine he’d proposed for South Baldutho Farm.

His application, for a 151-foot (46-metre) 50KW structure, access track and control cabinet, was thrown out, along with another, also at South Baldutho, of 100KW and measuring 156 feet, from a Glasgow-based applicant.

The bids were turned down on grounds of the impact on residential amenity, noise and shadow flicker – but Mr Peebles said “more than ample evidence” had been produced to defeat these arguments.

Both requests had attracted a lot of individual objections and Mr Peebles, whose family had farmed locally for many years, said some opponents seemed to think farmers were all “criminals” for wishing to install turbines.

There had to be some common ground in trying to produce energy for ourselves, he added – but some people thought farmers were “demons who have all this land and want to put up turbines”.

A lot of protestors’ allegations were unfounded, he said, and while he respected everybody’s right to an opinion, he felt those of family businesses and employers should be respected too.

Regarding the approved North Baldutho turbines, a SCALE (Save Carnbee & Arncroach Landscape & Environment) spokesman said: “The officer thought the proposal was acceptable because the turbines were smaller than before and did not rotate as quickly.

“There was no discussion of landscape and visual impact, which was deemed acceptable, and the application was approved as recommended.”

The spokesman added: “It was the right decision to refuse the turbines at South Baldutho but we were extremely disappointed by the planning service, which continues to fail to supply basic information to enable members to assess visual, landscape and cumulative impacts.”

EAST Fife FC could be joining forces with a developer for another large wind turbine down at Bayview.

In a scheme first revealed nearly three years ago, the Division Two club looks set to team up with the Ore Valley Housing Association (OHVA) over the building of a turbine near the club’s car park.

Cardenden-based OHVA has now lodged a planning application with Fife Council for the construction of a single 81-metre wind turbine, and associated equipment, at land to the south east of the Methil club’s Harbour View ground, pictured right.

Associate director, Eugene Clarke, said the football club had still to sign the agreement officially, but it had been expected that this would happen at a board meeting last night (Tuesday).

The club remained in support of the venture, as it had been when first announced in 2009, he added.

“If the application goes ahead, the club will be providing land for it.

“There will be income primarily in the form of rental for the use of the land,” he told the Mail.

The project was heralded three years ago as being a “win-win situation” for the football club and the community – which would benefit from the revenue generated – as well as the environment.

Mr Clarke said at the time that East Fife FC had been part of Levenmouth for over 100 years and would not get involved in any venture which would be detrimental to the area and its people.

It was reckoned OVHA’s share of the income would allow it to support the development of more affordable housing and sustainability projects in the area.

A Fife Council planning spokesman told the Mail the application was subject to a minimum 28-day consultation period, as it had involved an environmental impact assessment.

If it attracted more than five objections, it would have to go before the Levenmouth area committee for consideration.

If this happened, the process meant it was likely to be November at the earliest before it was reviewed, added the spokesman.