25 Oct 23:47 UPDATE: RPWDT has now updated its website and included a section devoted to the Community Wind Farm. This includes the DRAFT Environmental Impact Assessment and photomontages including the view from Ardentinny.
Following on from a public meeting in Cove last Saturday, Community Council members from along ‘The Shore’ (Strone, Kilmun, Blairmore and Ardentinny) were given a briefing on Tuesday evening by representatives from Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust (RPWDT) on the proposed Cove Community Wind Farm.
Generating some 11.5MW of power, the five 92.5m turbines would be located on leased land on the Roseneath Peninsula opposite Blairmore Pier. It would be the largest community owned wind farm in the UK. The turbines will be clearly visible from Ardentinny and would follow a 130m contour line. The Trust hopes the wind farm will be up and running by March 2014.
Trust Convener Murdo MacDonald said that the project consultants had tried to ensure that the turbines would be “backclothed” (i.e. hills/mountains to the rear of the wind farm) from most viewpoints. From the photomontages on display though, it would appear that the view of the turbines from Ardentinny is against the skyline.
The £15m project will be financed by a bank loan and we understand that the team is already in discussions with the Cooperative Bank. Revenues from the wind farm annually have been estimated at £2.5 million, with the intention of the project generating some £300k – £400k per annum for the community during the initial 15 years of its 25-year lifespan.
The income will provide the Roseneath community with a major cash injection to the area which would be used to enhance the local infrastructure such as affordable housing, sheltered housing and other community projects.
To date the RPWDT has raised almost half a million pounds for the preparatory work, with funding coming from Natural Scotland; LEADER Argyll and Island; Community Energy Scotland; The European Agricultural Fund; The Scottish Government; Scottish Community Projects Fund; Dunbritton Housing Association; The Robertson Trust; Voluntary Action Trust and The Big Lottery.
Murdo MacDonald emphasised that it would not only be the Roseneath Peninsula communities who would benefit from the wind farm, as the intention was for the RPWDT to amend its constitution to allow communities outwith the area to benefit. As the shore villages of Ardentinny, Blairmore and Strone would be the most visually impacted by the location of the wind turbines, they would also stand to benefit by an estimated £30k per annum.
The Trust is currently balloting residents in the peninsula villages directly affected by the wind farm. If the vote is in favour (an anticipated 66% yes vote), a planning application will be submitted to Argyll and Bute Council at the end of November 2012.
An exhaustive environmental impact statement has been prepared and this will be available online after the public ballot. A series of photomontages, one of which is from Shepherds Point, Ardentinny (see image above) has also beeen included in the Trust’s website.
Given that the proposed development is adjacent to the Ministry of Defence at Coulport, there was discussion as to whether there had been any objections from the MOD. Mr. MacDonald said that there had been close liaison with the MOD and that they had no objections.
One attendee asked if the Trust had sufficient funds if the planning application had to go to appeal. Mr. MacMurdo said “We have to get this right first time” as they would not have the funds for lengthy appeals.
Another asked if ‘strobing effect‘ from the turbines had been considered? The questioner was advised to consult the environmental impact statement online as the Trust representatives were not immediately conversant with all the detail.
The RPWDT team behind the project are keen to involve all the shore communities during this exploratory period. It was suggested to the project leader that, to enable all the shore communities to fully participate in the discussion process, a public meeting could be held. Mr. MacMurdo indicated that this would be given consideration.
Related links:Facebook or on Twitter (#covewindfarm). You can also contact the RPWDT team here.