THE man behind plans for three wind turbines at Ascog Farm on Bute outlined what he sees as the benefits from the project this week.
Adrian Tear gave a presentation to Bute Community Council on the day that planning permission was granted by Argyll and Bute Council for a temporary 50-metre wind monitoring mast at the site.
Mr Tear’s address was also aimed at tackling concerns raised by some members of the community at the prospect of having wind turbines on the island.
“I think the turbines can generate a lot of power, can make a lot of money and can benefit the community,” Mr Tear said.
“At UK level, the government and various other bodies are all in support of renewable energy.”
Speaking of concerns over climate change, Mr Tear said that with polar ice caps melting and sea levels rising, it was not unthinkable that “my children’s children may live to see the island start to go under water”.
He added: “Over coming decades, with technology, we will see many more renewable energy solutions begin to crop up.”
Turning his attention to some of the concerns which have been raised, and which featured in The Buteman some weeks ago, Mr Tear said: “The reaction is fair, I do understand it. However, there are more people in favour of the turbines than are against them.
“Some of the concerns include noise, birds, visibility, the effect on tourism, and why should we make money? All of these concerns will be taken seriously.”
Mr Tear said the benefits both to the farm and to the wider community could last for 20 years, with 20 per cent of the net profits generated by the turbines going directly to a local community project or group.
He also said he planned to use income from the turbines for a number of initiatives at Ascog Farm itself, which could include green or eco-tourism facilities, such as mountain bike courses, a year-round ice-skating or curling rink powered by green energy, and a micro-brewery.
* Planning permission for Mr Tear’s temporary wind monitoring mast at Ascog Farm was granted by Argyll and Bute Council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee at a meeting in Lochgilphead last Wednesday.
Despite attracting comment from 23 people - many of whom were concerned at the prospect of the mast paving the way for wind turbines in the area - the council’s planning officials decided not to hold a local hearing to consider the application, as they did earlier this month with the proposal to build a residential care home in Ascog, because “an approval would not set a precedent for accepting wind turbines at the site”.
In his assessment of the application, to erect the mast for a temporary 14-month period, local planning officer Steven Gove said: “The mast has a relatively thin profile (17.5cm or seven inches in diameter) and it is considered that given its small scale diameter and that it will only be sited for a temporary period of 14 months, it will not constitute a permanent and prominent feature in the context of its landscape setting.
“Therefore, it is not considered that its presence will have a significant adverse visual impact on the wider landscape setting of the area.
“It should be made explicitly clear that the temporary approval of this mast for wind monitoring purposes does not imply that the surrounding area is a suitable site, in planning terms, for a wind farm development.”