Mixed response to GSK turbine proposal

The open to public day in the Links Hotel Montrose by GSK and the turbines they wish to install. Members of their staff were on hand to answer any quieries the public might have.
The open to public day in the Links Hotel Montrose by GSK and the turbines they wish to install. Members of their staff were on hand to answer any quieries the public might have.

MORE than 180 people have viewed details of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) proposals to site two 400-foot wind turbines at its factory.

Details of the scheme, which has divided local opinion, were presented directly to the public for the first time at an exhibition and information day in the Links Hotel on Thursday.

The company hopes that the turbines, located on the south side of its Cobden Street site next to the South Esk, will slash its carbon emissions in Montrose by around 75 per cent.

The £8 million proposal, however, has attracted a level of opposition with an online petition attracting more than 130 signatures mainly on the grounds of the turbines’ anticipated visual impact and fears over their effect on bird migration.

A series of information boards set out background and GSK’s aims for the site to eventually become carbon neutral, which would be achieved partly through a combination of wind and tidal energy.

In a separate scheme, the company has proposed siting 15 tidal turbines under the South Esk bridge which would also help cut carbon emissions significantly, although both would complement energy efficiency promoted and implemented on site and in the manufacturing process.

A GSK spokesman this week said the general feeling was that the eight-hour event had been constructive. All feedback from the public will now be processed and included in the company’s consultation report which will form part of its planning application.

He said: “We had about 180 people through who came in steadily throughout the day and I think there was a lot of interest in the display boards we had there.

“Staff were kept busy giving out information including a booklet that captured all of the information they were seeing. We also had response cards which people could fill in and leave there or post to us later on.

“There was a mix of reactions, some people came in who would have pre-formed views and wanted to express those and others who didn’t.”

The company has said that to generate the required amount of electricity, six megawatts by 2013, the 426-foot high turbines would be necessary. Although there is no fall-back plan if the application is turned down, other options have been considered with tidal generation the most feasible although the greater return would be from wind energy.

The spokesman added: “The schemes don’t go hand in hand. With the marine turbines, a study has been done that suggests it would be feasible to generate electricity from an array of turbines sitting on the river bed on either side of Montrose bridge.

“I think ultimately, for the size of the turbines talked about, there would be 15. These wouldn’t be visible at any stage of the tide.

“Wind turbines are the most visible of the options which included solar cells on roofs and a biomass boiler. Some have been practicable and other haven’t. The approach is also to make the site, and the equipment on the site, as energy efficient as it can be.

“We’re constantly looking at how we can reduce energy usage, and that includes the human element. Making sure lights and computers are turned off all has a part to play.”