“Sabotage” claim rejected

MONTROSE Community Council chairman Peter Davies has hit back at “unwarranted criticism” aimed at the group over its apparent lack of consultation on GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) wind turbine proposals.

A spokesman for an action group set up by Ferryden residents to oppose the proposal - for two 426-feet high turbines at GSK’s Cobden Street site - last week accused the community council of “downright sabotage” for failing to have the issue on its agenda and giving local people “a voice in the matter”.

Mr Davies this week said the subject will be raised at the community council at the appropriate time, once GSK has lodged its planning application.

He said: “I want to assure the Montrose public that, as we are the only statutory consultee out of the three Montrose area community councils, we will be handling the application as laid out by Angus Council’s Scheme for Community Councils.

“I have to reiterate this point that the consultation process with the Montrose public can only start when GSK actually submit a planning application and to date they have not.”

His comments were backed by community councillor Tommy Stewart who said a public meeting, to which GSK representatives will be invited, will be held once the application is lodged. A decision will then be made whether to support or object to the proposal.

Montrose Society president Sandy Munro also responded to criticism levelled at his organisation for “forgetting its role as guardians and protectors of the town.”

Mr Munro said the group, after discussion by its committee, “proposes to express its general reservation, but not outright opposition concerning the development. More particularly it will comment about the site and the size of the proposed wind turbines.”

Both he and the group’s vice-president had attended GSK’s exhibition at the Links Hotel as well as a later meeting organised by Ferryden Community Council. Opinions were also garnered from a “wide circle of people within the town” prior to the discussion.

He said: “Strongly held views have emerged, such that the committee does not have a clear position of being either for or against the proposal, which has still to emerge as a formal planning application.

“The vice-president reflected upon the widely diverse opinions that are held within the community. He observed that all factions have a common worry about the possible withdrawal of GSK investment in the town.

“The forthcoming planning application for these turbines will be the most significant to come before the Montrose community for several decades. That Angus Council reportedly view this as a ‘minor’ application, based on the power output of the proposed turbines should be challenged.”

He added that the application should be examined not only on economic and green credential grounds, but also on its effect on the amenity for the people of Montrose and Ferryden.

He added: “That the plant nearly closed in recent years is clouding the issue and fear that GSK might move away if the application is refused is a strong undercurrent in all of this. If that fear were to be allayed by further clarification from GSK then the community would have the chance to debate this on what I see as the most important aspect - the radical effect that these structures will have on the historic skyline of our ancient Royal Burgh.

“I fear that Montrose might in future be recognised as ‘Turbine Town’ rather than ‘the aristocrat of Angus’, as described by Nigel Tranter.”