Planners have ‘significant concerns’ over Ascog turbines

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It’S beginning to look unlikely that Argyll and Bute Council officials will recommend the hugely controversial Ascog wind farm application for approval in its current form.

The authority’s planning officials have written to the agents for applicant Adrian Tear to say they have “significant concerns” over aspects of the plan for three wind turbines at Ascog Farm on Bute’s east coast.

In a ltter to Giliane Mallia of SAC Commercial, planning officer Steven Gove says the council’s development and infrastructure services department shares the concerns expressed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) earlier this week over the scale of the turbines and the layout of the proposed development.

Mr Gove has also asked Ms Mallia to advise, in light of the department’s concerns, whether she wishes to continue with the application or have it withdrawn.

As this article was published the number of public comments on the application had reached 579, with nearly 90 per cent of those comments opposing the plan for three turbines, each measuring 74 metres from ground to blade tip on an already-elevated site.

In his letter Mr Gove drew Ms Mallia’s attention to the comments both of SNH - the subject of a separate article on this site, published on December 12 - and of the council’s own environmental health officer, Richard Gorman, who has expressed concern about the level of work done on the potential noise impact of the project.

Mr Gove told Ms Mallia: “This Department shares the views of Scottish Natural Heritage and also recommends that three further viewpoints require assessment.

“The first would be from the public road that runs to the immediate west of the application site, and it might be reasonable to utilise the road adjacent to the dwellinghouse known as ‘Braeside’ as the main viewpoint.

“The second assessment should be taken from the B881 public road that leads to the southern approach to Rothesay, at a point somewhere between the property known as ‘Lochend’ and the property known as ‘Crossbeg’.

“The third assessment relates to a viewpoint from the Wemyss Bay to Rothesay ferry crossing. I acknowledge the comments that you have made in your email dated 3rd December 2012 regarding the difficulties of achieving a suitable field of view from a moving ferry.

“However, I am sure that you would agree that the proximity of the site to one of the key entrances to the Isle of Bute is an important issue that should be evaluated. I would be extremely grateful if you could give consideration as to how an assessment of this viewpoint could be technically achieved.

“Given the concerns expressed by Scottish Natural Heritage (and shared by this Department) based upon the information already submitted in the Environmental Statement, it is unlikely that the further viewpoints which have been requested will diminish the concern at the visual impact of the proposed turbines.

“Furthermore, the significant additional work relating to the assessment of noise impact may not necessarily come to a favourable conclusion from the applicant’s perspective.

“It is, of course, your prerogative to provide the necessary information, but this may not be sufficient to overcome the significant concerns which the Department has.

“I would be grateful if you could give the above comments your consideration and provide an answer to the following three questions.

“I. Please advise whether you wish to continue with the application or arrange for it to be withdrawn;

“II. If you wish to continue, will you be arranging for the outstanding information to be submitted or do you wish the application to be determined as submitted;

“III. If you intend to submit further information, what will be the timescale for this to be submitted to the council.”

Mr Gove has asked for a response by December 21.