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Planned Fintry windfarm in doubt over new guidelines

Windfarm operators say new guidelines could jeopardise extension plans for their project near Fintry - and massive cash boosts for local villages along with it. Falck Renewables is looking to extend the Earlsburn windfarm and an application for a further nine turbines is currently with Stirling Council. The new proposal would broaden the community benefits package ...But the company says moves by Stirling Council to update its windfarm policy could prove too restrictive.

Windfarm operators say new guidelines could jeopardise extension plans for their project near Fintry - and massive cash boosts for local villages along with it.

Falck Renewables is looking to extend the Earlsburn windfarm and an application for a further nine turbines is currently with Stirling Council.

The new proposal would broaden the community benefits package to include all the local community council areas around the site, including Gargunnock, Cambusbarron, Fintry, Denny, Carron Valley and Kippen.

But the company says moves by Stirling Council to update its windfarm policy could prove too restrictive.

West Coast Energy planning and development director Steve Salt said: "We are delighted that the Earlsburn Community Benefit Fund has enabled the communities within the Carron Valley and District and Cambusbarron and Denny and District Community Council areas to benefit from the Earlsburn wind farm and make a positive difference in many people's lives.

"There is a great opportunity for us to provide further funds to the area through our proposals to extend the Earlsburn windfarm by nine... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Windfarm operators say new guidelines could jeopardise extension plans for their project near Fintry - and massive cash boosts for local villages along with it.

Falck Renewables is looking to extend the Earlsburn windfarm and an application for a further nine turbines is currently with Stirling Council.

The new proposal would broaden the community benefits package to include all the local community council areas around the site, including Gargunnock, Cambusbarron, Fintry, Denny, Carron Valley and Kippen.

But the company says moves by Stirling Council to update its windfarm policy could prove too restrictive.

West Coast Energy planning and development director Steve Salt said: "We are delighted that the Earlsburn Community Benefit Fund has enabled the communities within the Carron Valley and District and Cambusbarron and Denny and District Community Council areas to benefit from the Earlsburn wind farm and make a positive difference in many people's lives.

"There is a great opportunity for us to provide further funds to the area through our proposals to extend the Earlsburn windfarm by nine turbines. We want this long-term funding to create and to support charitable activities which enhance quality of life for local residents, contribute to vibrant, healthy, successful and sustainable communities, promote community spirit and encourage community activity.

"We welcome the emergence of a clear policy on renewable energy projects from Stirling Council, however we have concerns that the policy will make no allowance for projects that are extensions to already permitted developments, as opposed to fresh applications.

"In our view this could inhibit our ambitions in the area but also those of neighbouring communities with whom we are currently working to explore long-term wider community benefits and we very much hope this point will be considered during the consultation process."

A Scottish Communities Foundation Report issued this month reveals Falck Renewables' Earlsburn windfarm paid out grants totalling more than £30,000 to local community projects from May 2008 to September 2009.

Community groups, Cambusbarron Community Council, Cambusbarron Sports Day, Save Gillies Hill, Denny Community Support Group, Strathcarron Hospice, Artlink Central are among successful applicants so far.

Almost £40,000 is still up for grabs in the Carron Valley and Denny districts.

The charitable fund, provided by Falck Renewables, is part of the community package formulated when the Earlsburn windfarm was developed in 2007.

Alongside the agreement with the Scottish Community Foundation, ensuring that an index linked sum of £35,000 per annum be paid to the community fund, a turbine was constructed for Fintry Renewable Energy Enterprise.

At current prices the community turbine is expected to return £900,000 over the first 15 years then roughly £4 million during the next ten years.

A council spokesperson said a draft policy has been prepared and is expected to go before councillors "in the near future".

The spokesperson added: "While the draft policy is intended to be quite restrictive relative to the size of turbines proposed, such as at Earlsburn and elsewhere, because of concerns about the cumulative landscape and other impacts of additional large turbines, the draft policy is actually less restrictive relative to windfarm extensions as opposed to discrete windfarms.

"Potential benefits to communities arising out of windfarm developments are provided at developers' discretion and the planning authority cannot take them into account when assessing whether a specific proposal is acceptable.

"The offer of benefits to communities is not a reason for granting planning permission. The Scottish Government's planning policy guidance on renewable energy, makes this clear, although it does allow the council to consider actual spin-offs to the local economy, such as the employment of local labour during construction."


Source: http://www.stirlingobserver...

OCT 30 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22904-planned-fintry-windfarm-in-doubt-over-new-guidelines
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