A FORFAR-BASED windfarm protest group has reached a milestone as 100 people have pledged to support its cause.
Stop Turbines at Lunanhead (STAL) is protesting against the St Mary’s Well windfarm - a site only 200 yards away from another windfarm application on Finavon Hill which was opposed by Angus Council planners and recently rejected by a Reporter on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Susan Oliphant, chairwoman of STAL, said that it “beggars belief” that the joint applicants Element Power and the Carse Gray Estate believe they have a suitable site for a windfarm when a proposal only yards away had been roundly condemned by the authorities. She said: “This current proposal is for more turbines than the first application and will seriously impact on a greater number of homes and is clearly in breach of the local development plan.
“The company’s recent exhibitions took you to a fairy tale setting saying how wonderful they were with their green credentials but lacked detail and concern about the many residents whose lives would suffer.
“There were also some extraordinary comments on their pretty storyboards that the site had ‘not been identified by Angus Council as unsuitable for wind turbines’. They also didn’t seem to have a care that the landscape would be seriously blighted over a wide area.”
She emphasised that those residents who were opposing the plan were not against renewable energy – their views were in line with Scottish Government policy that windfarms should only be sited where suitable locations can be found. Residents have also been dismayed that the company is claiming they want to be open and transparent yet at the same time have embarked on an aggressive Public Relations campaign, hiring a non-local firm. As previously reported the offer of community benefits has been roundly condemned by those who believe it is being used as a tactic to sway opinion.
The group has also condemned a recent survey undertaken by the developers. Mrs Oliphant said: “It needs to be noted that even by the company’s own admission almost half the people they contacted refused to complete the survey with some people reporting to STAL that they believed that the questions were loaded in favour of the scheme.
“Also many people living near the site – those whose lives would be most severely affected – were not even contacted. One can drive a coach and horses through the so called conclusions that Element Power has reached.
“The fact of the matter is that hundreds of objections will land on the planners’ desks at Angus Council and we are confident that the application will be refused.”
Element Power’s survey took place last month. A total of 717 households answered the phone and 388 households completed the survey. The results show that 291 households considered wind farms an important part of the energy mix, with 242 households in favour of the plans and a further 13 per cent holding a neutral or no opinion view.
The final 24 per cent of survey respondents said that they were against the scheme.
Neil Lindsay, Element Power, said: “The results of the independent research are very encouraging - it proves that there is some real local support for the St Mary’s Well Wind Farm and that the local community recognise the environmental and economic benefits that the project would bring to the area.
“By creating new employment opportunities and commercial openings for local businesses through to providing substantial funding for projects that could help transform the facilities that local people are able to enjoy for decades to come; the St Mary’s Well Wind Farm has great potential to make a really positive impact in and around Forfar.”