Setback for GSK turbines proposal

PROPOSALS to reduce the height of Glaxosmithkline’s (GSK) wind turbines have been turned down by the Scottish Government Reporter considering the company’s appeal.

Amended plans for two 360-feet high turbines were submitted during the appeal process, a reduction from the maximum 426 feet applied for to Angus Council. The company has been told, however, that a fresh planning application would have to be lodged as the information was not available to the council when the original application was considered by its development standards committee.

In a letter to Robin Matthew, of planning consultants PPCA Ltd., Christine Brown, from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, said that although the alternative has been suggested on the basis that the application was for turbines up to 426 feet, the council has maintained that this represents “a materially different proposal and is unacceptable.”

She also pointed out that in the company’s environmental impact study, an estimate of 380 feet to 426 feet was given and that no “best case scenario” of the lower turbines’ impact was addressed specifically, meaning the council had no information on which to assess that alternative.

She said: “The significance of those figures was to allow for a choice of turbine manufacturer and type during the subsequent tendering process, as is normal practice. The more recent option lies outwith these parameters.

The post-2008 planning system looks to move away from the old system where it was possible for amendments to a proposal to be introduced at any stage of the application and appeal process unless it changed the character of the proposal so as to amount, in effect, to a different proposal. It is now expected that the scheme will remain in the form which was considered by the planning authority.

“During processing of the application, the council suggested that your clients consider reducing the height of the turbines to address the comments of Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, but they did not do so.”

A GSK spokesman this week said the company would like the appeal to proceed on the terms of the original proposals.

He said: “An option of 110 metres might have provided room for further discretion at appeal, but, if it is ruled that a new planning application would be necessary, then GSK would want the original application to be considered by the Reporter.”