Unanimous decision on gas plant at Fife opencast site

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A controversial new power plant has been approved.

It got the go-ahead from councillors, and will be created at the former Westfield Opencast coal site near Kinglassie to produce electricity for the national grid at times of peak demand.

It will contain up to ten gas fired engines, a substation, and voltage rooms. An acoustic screen will also be erected on the northern and western sides.

A total of  31 objections were submitted.

They covered air quality, environmental emissions and the sustainability in the context of Government policies which are moving towards clean, renewable energy, plus a lack of consultation.

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There were also concerns over the level of traffic using the site. When planning permission in principle was granted last year, it was revealed that around 130 HGVs journeys would be made in and out.

At the Central Area planning committee on Monday, Councillor Gordon Langlands asked about what additional work would be needed to enable the power plant connect to the grid.

Planning officer Martin McGroarty said: “It is just over one per cent of the total plot being developed. Even though we’re moving towards de-carbonisation, at times renewable energy can’t provide everything required.

“In terms of how it operates, it has to commit to being able to provide X amount of energy within seven minutes. This type of plant allows it to go from nothing to providing energy quickly, unlike diesel and oil which have to be kept running at all times – they can’t just fire up from cold.

“It won’t run at all times. It is estimated it will run for 2190 hours annually. That’s around six hours each day – only as and when needed. It may not be on every day at those times.”

Concerns raised over the noise the plant would generate for the nearest houses.

Councillor Ross Vettriano said: “It’s hypothetical, but what powers would the council have if the noise levels at the stack aren’t falling under the agreed 65db?”

Mr McGroarty told councillors that SEPA would be the body in charge of regulating the plant.

Councillor Vettriano expressed unhappiness that the council wouldn’t have any enforcement powers: “We’re agreeing on planning conditions but someone else will be enforcing them? I asked what the council powers were, and the answer is none.”

All councillors agreed to approve the application.