PLANS for GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) wind turbine development took a step forward this week when the company’s planning application was lodged with Angus Council.
The full application along with an accompanying 150-page environmental impact assessment and required photomontages of the project were submitted to the planning department on Tuesday.
If given the go-ahead the two 426-feet high turbines would help to make the Montrose plant carbon neutral by 2014. The scheme is part of a general carbon reduction programme being driven by Andrew Witty, GSK’s chief executive officer. The aim is to cut the wider company’s carbon footprint by 25 per cent by 2020 and completely by 2050.
Although the Montrose site already has initiatives in place to reduce its energy use, including more efficient machinery and its own low carbon combined heat process plant (CHP), a combination of wind and marine-generated power would slash carbon emissions by more than 75 per cent.
Speaking this week to the Review Ian Morrow, who is leading the renewable energy project in Montrose, said the £8million turbines are key to the overall carbon reduction strategy. He also said they are important to the site’s viability over the next 25 years.
He said: “It’s a big investment, we’re serious about it and is a real mark of commitment to the Montrose factory. The wind turbines, as much as they help us to take a step change in our carbon footprint, will help to secure the long-term future of the business in Angus.
“We’ll never say ‘give us the turbines or we’ll close the factory’ but what we’re proposing will mean that we will have the capacity to grow and still remain carbon neutral.”
The proposal has sparked protests among residents, particularly in Ferryden, who have acknowledged the company’s need to go green but are concerned mainly about the turbines’ visual impact.
It has been suggested they could be moved off-site but Mr Morrow said the aims for the plant to be off-grid and self-sufficient would make that impossible.
He said: “No other renewable technology is as cost-effective and we’re looking at an energy storage system which would mean that when excess electricity was generated, instead of exporting it we would store it on site and use it if the turbines were not running. If we cut from the grid we can take power from the turbines or from the storage facility.”
Acknowledging residents’ concerns Mr Morrow said visual impact is the one concern the company cannot do anything about. He added that the turbines would be the most up-to-date available and include “optional extras” such as heated blades to prevent ice build-up and a sophisticated four-stage fire detection system.
He said: “It will change the profile of Montrose but I believe it will bring economic benefits and indicate that Montrose supports renewable energy. The port authority is working hard to bring renewables business to the town and in the long term that could eclipse what GSK does for prosperity and jobs.”