Onshore Renewables Consultation Result

Following Argyll and Bute Council’s consultation on its framework for community benefits from onshore renewables, a summary of the responses is available on the Council’s website at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/consultation_responses.pdf.

As a result of this it has produced ‘Argyll and Bute Guidance for Community Benefits from Onshore Renewables‘. 

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Community Council requested to consult local authority on damage compensation and monitoring of radioactive emissions

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RNAD Coulport

At Ardentinny Community Council’s April meeting a local resident requested the following action from the Community Council as part of its remit “to help make public bodies aware of the opinions and needs of the community it represents.

The request was made in the context of past events at HMNB Clyde and RNAD Coulport. For example, the MOD officially recorded 105 ‘nuclear safety events’ in the Coulport and Faslane bases in 2013-14, and in March 2014 Ardentinny residents experienced damaging impact from blasts at Coulport.

Therefore, the request was made to consult with Argyll and Bute Council “as to where compensation would be obtained should there be any damage to residents’ homes and livestock, e.g., horses; and ‘what emergency procedures have been put in place and how satisfactory are they?”  The Clyde Off-site Emergency Plan has recently been updated and can be found here. The Council has been advised that the population of Ardentinny is in excess of 50, as published in the plan.

With regard to radioactive emissions, it was requested that “the community council consult the local authority on how to ensure that there is consistent and local, independent monitoring of the safety of the beach at Ardentinny and that the results are made public.” Levels of emissions can be found in the RIFE-19 Report on Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (Dec. 2014) which is compiled by the Environment Agency; Food Standards Agency; Natural Resources Wales; Northern Ireland Environment Agency; and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Faslane and Coulport are specifically covered in pages 168-169 and Appendix 2, p.249 & p.254.

According to SEPA, the radioactive waste currently being discharged from Faslane and Coulport is below the current agreed limits and there are plans to agree new limits to better reflect actual discharges together with continuing conditions which require the amount of discharged waste to be minimised.

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Hydro Steering Group – Appeal for Additional Members

24 residents attended a public meeting in the Village Hall on Tuesday,  31 March to discuss the formation of a Hydro Steering Group for the proposed Hydro schemes in Ardentinny.

Chairperson, Dougie Menzies explained that the purpose of the meeting was to set up a Steering Group which would be tasked with drawing up the Constitution of a future Hydro Trust and the appointment of its Trustees which would then manage the income from renewable energy projects on behalf of the community.

He said that a pre steering group had been formed after the developer Co Hydrover approached the Community Council. This group of 8 included Ian McInnes MBE; Councillor Bruce Marshall; and National Park representative, David Mackenzie. However, they were keen to recruit a wider group of people in order to tap into the wealth of ideas and skills across the community to establish a formal Steering Group.

It was stressed that it was not the intention to discuss the project in detail, as it was in the very early stages and it was suggested that the developer was already experiencing delays liaising with Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

Mr. Malcolm Crosby, FCS Project Manager for Onshore Renewables informed us that, while he had been unaware of Tuesday night’s meeting, the developer had met with representatives of Ardentinny Community Council in January and that normal procedures for progressing the project were underway. He explained that FCS’ solicitors must first check the Titles of the land in question and that that process had begun. In the meantime, the developer can conduct walk-over surveys, something the Chair affirmed had begun, but any investigative drilling work etc. must wait for their solicitors’ report and its acceptance by the developer.

There will be an opportunity to discuss the project with the developer at a future public meeting later in the year but the current focus is to open up membership of the Steering Group to everyone in the village.

Ian McInnes suggested that it would be useful to have the publication of the Community Action Plan coincide with the developer’s public meeting. An example of a project that they have already been involved in is that of Kilfinnan Community Forest.

It was pointed out that the future Hydro Trust would manage income from all Hydro Schemes. For example, Ross MacArthur’s private scheme, which is a  little further on, would be included. Indeed other renewables projects could be included which are not necessarily limited to hydro. David Mackenzie referred to other Trusts which handle not only income but outgoings where communities have decided to invest in certain schemes in order to obtain a greater return.This could be another item for consideration by the Steering Group.

A question was raised as to how open Trust membership would be and the response was that that would be a decision for the Steering Group. FCS have published regulations on “Defining an appropriate community organisation” for communities to receive community benefit from developer-led renewable energy projects on the National Forest Estate   Also Argyll and Bute Council’s Onshore Renewables Community Benefits Consultation results, which are currently being collated, could be another useful information source for the future Steering Group.

The Chair then asked for volunteers to join the Steering Group and a further 8 came forward. The group comprised:

Dougie Menzies

Ian McInnes

David Mackenzie

Bruce Marshall

Neil Robinson

Val Kennedy

Marian Norris

Eileen Connell

Rob Bray

Malcolm Bartley

Linda Naismith

Jeanette Riley

Catriona McPhail

Guy Elder

Lynn Kerr

Bill Williamson

Anyone else in the village who would like to join is welcome to do so. If you are interested in participating, contact Dougie Menzies on 01369 810307. 

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Onshore Renewables – Community Benefit Consultation

IMG_0800-1In view of the potential onshore renewables projects in Ardentinny which have recently been raised at  Ardentinny Community Council meetings, residents may wish to participate in Argyll and Bute Council’s Community Benefit Consultation.

The Council has drawn up a framework for community benefits from onshore renewables which will replace its 2005 policy. You may view this draft document here. You are invited to provide your feedback here.

Responses should be submitted no later than 13 March 2015.

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Mixed views on proposed Cove Wind Farm

Ardentinny Community Councillor Malcolm Bartley raises a point with Murdo MacDonald.

Ardentinny Community Councillor Malcolm Bartley raises a point with Murdo MacDonald.

A crowd of 70+ crammed Blairmore Village Hall on Saturday 24 November to attend Kilmun Community Council’s Open Day to discuss the proposed Wind Farm at Cove. The meeting began with the Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust (RPWDT) giving their presentation of the proposal. They cited the reason for the development as being an attempt to save their dying community and projected that revenue earned from the grid would go towards financing affordable housing, which in turn should help save the local school; the provision of sheltered housing; play areas and other projects identified in their Community Action Plan.

Chairman of the Trust, Murdo MacDonald also reported that the Trust had recently changed its Memorandum and Articles to permit it to give funds to communities other than its own and that it was planned to give £22,000 annually, for the initial 15 years of the windfarm’s lifespan, to an independent body set up for the purpose of receiving these funds for the communities of Kilmun, Blairmore and Ardentinny, as they would be the most affected by the development. These communities would decide how they wished to spend the money and the RPWDT would require an annual report on how it had been utilized.

After having had the opportunity to view the PowerPoint presentation and accompanying information panels, the Trust invited questions from the public. Issues of concern raised were
– the proximity of flight paths.
– the potential effect on a nearby nature reserve.
– the noise factor and how it may be magnified travelling across Loch Long.
– the effect on house prices
– the visual impact on Shore residents, visitors, and ferry and cruise ship passengers.

All of these concerns were answered with specific reference to the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment which had been undertaken. However some of those present were unconvinced and there was prolonged discussion and disagreement regarding the photomontages used to portray the visual impact from specific points in Cowal. The RPWDT explained that these had been produced in accordance with statutory regulations.

When the RPWDT left there then followed a discussion by the attending public, chaired by Kilmun Community Council’s Chair. Here concerns and criticisms were reiterated and it was mooted that the sum being offered to the Shore communities was unacceptably low.

However, not everyone was against the development project. Some were supportive of the RPWDT’s efforts to rescue its ‘dying community’ and to address the bigger picture of the future of the younger generation and their children etc. One gentleman reported that he had done some considerable research on the internet which was inconclusive on the issues raised because he found that where one piece of research would support a particular argument, another would refute it. Another summarised by saying that the RPWDT had made their presentation supported by research and documentation but the counter-arguments from the floor appeared not to have similar documented support.

The Chair concluded that Kilmun Community Council could either do nothing or object to the planning application on behalf of the community, if it had a mandate to do so. Ballot forms (see below) together with a template objection letter had been distributed to residents and those in attendance, in order to elicit their opinion regarding the development. There were complaints that these ballot forms displayed a bias although Kilmun Community Council vigorously denied any intention of this.

When asked what would constitute ‘a mandate’ the Chair responded saying a simple majority, i.e., e.g., of 1. Completed forms should be returned to Strone Post Office before Friday 30 November and any completed by residents of Ardentinny will be forwarded to Ardentinny Community Council to be dealt with by them.

Download Ballot form/Template objection letter (PDF).

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Update on Cove Windfarm Public Meeting

Site of the proposed Cove Wind Farm.

14 Nov. We have been informed by the Convener of Kilmun Community Council that the Cove Windfarm public meeting to be held in Blairmore hall on Saturday 24 November will now begin at 2 p.m. She has also informed us that West Roseneath Community Development Trust has been invited to give their presentation at the meeting.

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New view from Sandy Beach

Wide angle view from Sandy beach with Cove Community Wind Farm highlighted. [click to enlarge]

View from Sandy Beach/Shepherds Point, Ardentinny showing (highlighted) location of proposed Cove Community Wind Farm on Roseneath Peninsula. 35mm format equivalent 28mm focal length lens.

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Changing vistas: The view from Ardentinny

Photomontage of proposed wind farm site taken from Shepherds Point/Sandy Beach, Ardentinny. Courtesy: Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust [click image to enlarge]

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.

RPWDT Convener Murdo MacDonald

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.

Briefing representatives from the shore Community Councils.

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:

Community Wind Farm documentation

Photomontage: View from Ardentinny

Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust

Cove Wind Farm location map

Who would see the arc of the turbines?

What happens next?

Packed meeting debates wind farm plan

Downloadable wind farm ballot leaflet (pdf)

Wind farm location map. [click image to enlarge]

  Join the Discussion! Ardentinny.org and RPWDT would like to hear your views on the proposed wind farm. You can leave a comment below, via Facebook or on Twitter (#covewindfarm). You can also contact the RPWDT team here.

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Beach Clean – Thank you!

A HUGE thank you to all who helped clean Ardentinny beach today, especially those who came from other villages to help, the children, and the two two-year-olds!

What a difference we made….

Freda Waldapfel

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Clyde bases plagued by nuclear safety flaws, says the MoD.

HMS Illustrious passes Coulport earlier this month

The Clyde bases that host Britain’s nuclear bombs and submarines are plagued by widespread safety flaws, according to an internal Ministry of Defence (MoD) report obtained by the Sunday Herald.

Critics fear that the problems could trigger a major nuclear accident at Faslane or Coulport that would contaminate Glasgow with radioactivity. They say this would be “unspeakable” and are demanding an urgent investigation.

The MoD’s latest annual review of safety reveals that 11 of the bases’ 13 activities have been officially declared unsatisfactory after assessments by site managers and regulators. The review was released last week in response to a request under freedom of information legislation.

Nine safety activities were colour-coded yellow because they were “below standard” and suffered “some specific weaknesses”. These included categories headed “weapons safety”, “safety culture”, “maintenance”, “safety performance indicators”, “site safety case”, “nuclear safety event reporting” and “conventional health and safety including fire safety”.

Two activities were coded orange because they were “significantly below standard” with “flawed” practices or procedures. They were headed “organisational change” and “operator experience feedback”.

No further details about the precise nature of the safety weaknesses were given in the review, or by the MoD. On nuclear weapons safety the review just said there had been “shortfalls in specific areas or delays in progressing projects”.

The revelations were “of grave concern”, according to the SNP’s defence spokesman in Westminster, Angus Robertson MP. “They point to serious systemic failures which could clearly put lives at risk,” he said. Continued…

Reproduced by permission of Sunday Herald environment correspondent  Rob Edwards.

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