United Kingdom

United Kingdom

REJECTION OF PROPOSAL DISAPPOINTS UTILITY

Strathclyde regional authorities have rejected a proposal for a wind plant applied for by ScottishPower. The controversy seems to have arisen over the choice of site. ScottishPower seems in no hurry to settle the matter.

ScottishPower's plans for up to 21 wind turbines at Burnt Hill near Largs have been rejected. The 10 MW wind farm, which would have been built within the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, was turned down by Strathclyde Regional Council on policy grounds.

The council claims the applicant should have first considered other areas in the region. "We have been looking at the whole question of wind farms in Strathclyde and have identified search areas where wind farms would be acceptable and which should be considered first before moving on to more sensitive areas such as regional parks," explains Strathclyde's Dave Jones.

According to Bob Brown from ScottishPower, the wind farm would have been in keeping with the educational and recreational aspects of the area. Roads to the site would have provided easier access for visitors to northern parts of the regional park which have been largely inaccessible. The company claims it was very careful in selecting the site which is more than a mile from any household and would not be visible from any population centre.

"ScottishPower feel a very strong responsibility to set the tone and standards for wind power development -- particularly in southern Scotland," says Brown. "We preferred this site to developments elsewhere which might have higher wind speeds," he adds. For now, ScottishPower plans to take no action to appeal against the development, preferring to await the results of the shake-up of local authorities in 1996 in the hope this could produce a body more favourable towards the development.

The proposed Burnt Hill wind farm was the only project being developed solely by ScottishPower -- the electricity generator and distributor in southern Scotland. It has a minority interest in a further joint venture wind farm scheme, but Brown stresses that power plant development is not the company's principal interest. Although it wants the experience of building a wind farm in order to keep its finger on the pulse of development it has no aspirations to be in the forefront of wind farm construction. "We do not wish to secure a disproportionate amount of the Scottish Renewables Order (SRO). That would not be right." Instead, the company's actions in buying a 50% stake in the completed Llandinam wind farm in Wales is an indication of where its interests lie. "That is more consistent with our approach -- to purchase successful projects once they have been built," he explains.

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