Bute Community Council has been told that it won’t lose out on the ‘community benefit’ from a proposed major wind farm in the south Cowal hills - even if it objects to the scheme.
But BCC members have been told that if they want to be in line to receive a slice of the financial windfall from the Bachan Burn proposal, which could see turbines up to 145 metres tall built on the hills between Dunoon and Innellan, they’ll need to register an interest soon.
Speaking at the community council’s July meeting, Laura Jeffrey from PNE Wind UK, the company which wants to develop the Bachan Burn site, said a ‘community vehicle’ - an organisation, such as a trust, set up to manage and disburse community benefit payments from a wind farm project - would not require to be in place until planning permission for the scheme was secured and all the necessary finance was in place.
“Registering an interest [in the community vehicle] does not mean you can’t object to the scheme when planning permission is being sought,” Ms Jeffrey said.
“You can start working together now. Bruce Marshall [independent councillor for Cowal] is trying to bring interested groups together with regard to a possible meeting of interested groups in August.
“The intention is that there should be one community vehicle for the project. It will probably be two or three years before this comes to fruition, but if you are interested you need to start doing something now.”
PNE Wind UK has put forward two design proposals for the Bachan Burn site: one featuring 20 turbines, each 110 metres tall, the other with 15 turbines, each 145m in height.
The company held an exhibition at Rothesay Pavilion earlier this year with fly-through digital montages showing the expected visual impact of the turbines: though few, if any, would be visible from viewpoints on Bute itself, they would be clearly visible from the ferry from Wemyss Bay.
The scale of the proposed project is such that an application for planning permission - which is expected to be submitted by the end of this year - will go straight to the Scottish Government for a decision, rather than to Argyll and Bute Council, with the latter only able to act as a consultee.
* More on this story in the next issue of The Buteman - on sale from Thursday, July 31.