Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Fife Planning Department Begins to feel the pressure as the Clatto Applications go to Committee Today.....

Below is a reprint of some of the articles that have appeared in the local press over the last few days concerning the two applications for wind turbines from Green Cat Energy and West Coast Energy at Devon Wood and Clatto Hill. 

The contradictory way in which planners have dealt with these applications has lead to Clatto Landscape Protection Group taking their case to Fergus Ewing, the Energy Minister, as a demonstration of how planning departments are feeling the pressure from Holyrood to pass as many of these applications as possible, regardless of the policy guidelines and the suitability of the applications.

CLPG have fought these applications over a long period of time (as well as previous applications) and have now written to Fergus Ewing in an attempt to  make it clear that the huge financial rewards for developers mean that they are riding rough-shod over communities, seeking instead to 'buy' their acquiesence through Community Benefit packages, and that pressure on local planning departments to pass as many of these turbine applications as possible means that site location and supporting documentation provided by the developers for their applications, is often far below the 'impartial' standard it is meant to be.

PRESS RELEASE 16TH March 2012 


“Everything about the process forces local communities into an oppositional stance,” said Greg Brown, chair of the Clatto Landscape Protection Group, “Yet Scottish Government policy stresses the need for cooperation with local communities.” 

In the letter to Fergus Ewing, the group claims that the financial rewards for landowners and developers are so high that they are prepared to ride roughshod over local community concerns. “This also results in developers submitting documents supporting applications, serving their own interests, rather than the impartial documents required by regulations,” Greg Brown said. “In our case matters have been made worse by serious flaws in the planning service assessments of both Clatto Hill applications. This has resulted in our submitting a formal complaint to the Council.” CLPG explained to the Energy Minister in their letter that lip service is paid by developers to engaging with local communities, while in practice their focus is on attracting acquiescence by the offer of money for local community groups. “These attempts failed on Clatto Hill because local opposition was so strong due to the size, number and location of giant turbines in proximity to peoples’ homes and their very high visibility for miles around.” 
Fife Council’s Planning Committee meets on Tuesday to make final decisions on both Clatto Hill applications for a total of 8 turbines 100 metres or more in height. This follows Area Committee meetings of North East Fife and Levenmouth councillors, almost all of whom expressed strong views in opposition to them. 
“Our Group hopes, by writing to the Minister, that he will make changes to the application process, so that other local communities don’t have to go through the hell we have over the last two years,” said Greg Brown. 

Notes to the editor: 
Clatto Landscape Protection Group (CLPG) is a membership organisation formed in 2002. The purpose of CLPG is to protect a unique world class landscape for present and future generations of the community and visitors to the Kingdom of Fife to enjoy forever. 

We wish all at CLPG the best of luck today, and hope that the Central Planning Committee don't bow to the political pressure from Holyrood...

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