No decision made on turbine appeal

Gsk: Decision yet to be made.'Staff photograph
Gsk: Decision yet to be made.'Staff photograph

GLAXOSMITHKLINE (GSK) is still reviewing its options following Angus councillors’ rejection last week of plans to erect two wind turbines at its Montrose site.

A company spokesman said GSK has yet to receive formal notification of the decision from Angus Council and no conclusion on whether an appeal to the Scottish Government would be reached until then.

Members of the authority’s development control committee voted 9-2 against the plans at last Tuesday’s meeting.

He added, however, that GSK is willing to enter into talks with the council to discuss alternative proposals. The suggestion was put forward by infrastructure services director Eric Lowson in the course of his report on the plans. The spokesman said: “The site will wait until it receives the notification from the council which will define why the application was refused, and we’ll consider our position after that.

“We will contact the council and take them up on their offer to the site to discuss alternative ways of generating green energy.”

The decision by committee members followed recommendations for refusal put forward by Mr Lowson.

In his report, he said the 426-feet high structures at the company’s Cobden Street factory contravene planning policy. In particular he highlighted the wider “significant adverse landscape and visual impacts” the turbines would have as well as “significant adverse visual and noise impacts” on nearby residents.

He added: “

The company has said previously that the £8 million turbines will help to make the Montrose plant carbon neutral by 2014, part of a company-wide carbon reduction programme which has the ultimate aim of cutting the organisation’s carbon footprint by 25 per cent by 2020 and completely by 2050, and viable for the future.

Site director Andy Ross told the meeting that the turbines were important in underpinning the facilities GSK currently has in Montrose. He pointed out that the company had poured £90 million into the Montrose plant over the last six years with a further commitment of £50 million, £10 million of which had been dedicated to renewable energy projects.

Mr Ross also said there is potential to double the amount of business at GSK Montrose and the turbines were a key part of that strategy.

In his report, Mr Lowson said: “I have had regard to the commitment that the investment associated with this development would demonstrate to Montrose. Whilst I am unable to support this proposal I would be pleased to engage with the applicant with a view to considering alternative proposals with reduced impacts. Similarly I will continue to progress the South Montrose Planning Guidance with a view towards improving linkages and the general environment of the area for the benefit of existing businesses including GSK.

Objections were lodged by both Historic Scotland and the Scottish Civic Trust on the grounds that the development would have an adverse impact on and “overwhelm” the Old and St Andrew’s Church steeple, which is a “defining” characteristic of the town, although Historic Scotland said this could be mitigated by erecting “substantially” smaller turbines.

There were also 363 objections from the public as well as a 254-signature petition, 16 letters of support and one neither supporting nor objecting.