MEMBERS of a community council say they’ve been kept in the dark over plans to build a multi million pound windfarm on land at Pappert Hill.
The plans are expected to advance when members of West Dunbartonshire Council’s infrastructure, regeneration and economic development committee meet tomorrow to discuss the project in New Bonhill.
The committee will be asked to review an update into the project, believed to cost around £7.6m. And they’ll be asked for their blessing to enable council officers to continue with feasibility and environmental assessments into the scheme.
But the Bonhill and Dalmonach Community Council say they’ve had little chance to study the plans and are calling on more transparency over the scheme.
The windfarm project was first agreed by the local authority in principle in 2011. It was included in the council’s capital spending programme two years later.
Permission for the windfarm, mooted for Pappert Well Community Woodland, will still have to be approved at committee level and go through all the necessary planning procedures.
But if it is approved then it could bring in an important new revenue stream for the local authority from any future contributions to the National Grid.
Following their meeting on Thursday, the community council released a statement which read: “This development came as a shock to all at the meeting yesterday, nobody had heard that such a development was even in prospect until it was read out at the meeting.
“Cllr Jim Bollan said that previous studies done at Bellsmyre showed a potential for considerable income to the community, but it is not clear if the scheme proposed would offer such benefits, although the council would welcome the chance to debate the matter when more information is provided.
“This is too important an issue to be casually approved, and if the council would like to consult us on such projects we need accurate information in a timely manner.”
Supporters of the scheme include council leader, Labour’s Martin Rooney, and Cllr Jim Bollan, of the Community Party.
Cllr Bollan, who represents the Leven area, said: “The Community Party supports the development of this windfarm and are keen to look at further areas that may be considered for this type of green energy production.”
Cllr Rooney said: “The Pappert Windfarm project, if approved, would bring real benefits to the local community and help the council to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious targets for renewable energy.”
A report to go before members of the IREDC tomorrow said: “The council carried out a high level evaluation of the council’s estate for the purposes of utilising that estate for wind energy.
“As part of the Securitisation Project a detailed business case was produced in December 2012 outlining options for development of a windfarm on the council’s estate. Pappert Community Woodland was deemed to be a realistic prospect with potential for a technically and environmentally feasible 5 Megawatt (MW) wind project.”
The report goes on to say: “The option to develop, construct and operate a new windfarm was recommended and accepted as a project contained within the 10-year capital plan.
“By developing, constructing and operating the project, the council can generate income through the sale of electricity directly to the National Grid, or to others directly through a power purchase agreement,” the report added.
The LLTNP, according to the report “expressed concern principally” about the potential of the development “interrupting any view” that is currently pristine and was “concerned” about views from the loch itself, as well as from the gateways to the park.
Scottish Natural Heritage also has concerns. They say they would “not support” a development including turbines of more than 50m.