AN APPEAL against refusal for Glaxomithkline (GSK) to erect two wind turbines at its Cobden Street factory is “doomed to fail” according to opponents of the scheme.
The Ferryden Action Group, set up last year by some of the village’s residents against plans for the 426-feet high structures, this week said they see no reason why the council’s grounds for refusal should not stand.
Members of the authority’s development standards committee voted 9-2 against the plans at their August meeting, endorsing a report by neighbourhood services director Eric Lowson who recommended refusal on the grounds of the turbines’ visual impact and noise levels that were considered unacceptable.
Group spokesman Ian Paton said the company’s appeal, lodged with the Scottish Government, makes “very interesting reading”.
He said: “Such an overwhelming display of near unanimity makes it extremely difficult for GSK to find any grounds whatsoever upon which to base an appeal, but their advisers have come up with three issues; they claim that the report ‘short changes’ GSK’s aims and ambitions with regard to renewable energy, they challenge the section of the report dealing with the unacceptable noise created by the turbines and they propose to reduce the length of the blades by five metres and the height to the hub by 20 metres. This results in an overall reduction from 132metres to 110 metres.
“Nobody doubts the company’s worthy aspirations regarding renewable energy. The report recognises the valuable part played by wind power, but GSK’s argument that the loftiness of their ambitions should somehow supersede compliance with Scottish planning policies, local development plans etc is deemed to be ‘not a matter for council in determination of this application’.
“In short, an application for planning permission must stand upon how far it complies with the relevant planning criteria alone, and not upon the merits or otherwise of the applicant’s motivation, no matter how worthy that may be.
“Regarding noise, on the face of it we have two expert opinions; Mr Lowson says the predicted noise will be unacceptable, the appeal says it will be. Recent research on this aspect of turbines close to housing would appear to favour the unacceptable camp but in such a situation the precautionary principle should apply - better safe than sorry.”
Mr Paton also queried whether a separate planning application should be submitted to the council if the turbines were to be reduced in size.
He added: “A reduction of 17 per cent means very little when the starting point is so grotesquely too high. Look at the photomontage of the reduced height turbines taken from Ferryden and it will still take your breath away. All of Council’s reasons for refusal continue to apply.”
The company has maintained that, despite discussing alternative renewables schemes with the local authority, the 2.5 megawatt turbines remain the best option for the company to meet its aims of generating all its electricity on site. It has also claimed that the £8 million project would enhance “its prospects of winning further investment.”