OPPONENTS have blasted a plan to increase the number of huge wind turbines at Little Raith, next to Mossmorran, to 15.
Last week Kennedy Renewables outlined the financial windfall for local communities if proposals for another six towers were approved.
Currently, the wind farm has nine turbines and pays £49,500 per annum into a community benefit trust.
The company said this could increase by a further £96,000 a year – in total around £3.5million over 25 years – and said the new plans also included a visitor and education centre.
But groups have lined up to slam the financial incentives as “bribes” and said the communities did not want any more towering turbines.
Linda Holt, from national anti-wind farm campaign group Scotland Against Spin, said, “We’re seeing more and more elaborate community benefit packages from wind developers.
“The reason is always the same: to buy support or silence objections for a wind farm which for very good reasons local people don’t want. Sometimes such deals are secret; sometimes they are public like this one, because Kennedy Renewables wants to exploit them for maximum positive publicity.
“Although technically not illegal, promising people money before a controversial application is decided is unethical.
“It splits communities. Anyone who might want to oppose the wind farm can be made to feel they are depriving some worthy local group of much-needed cash.
“Bribes like this make it much harder for people to decide on an application on purely planning grounds, which is, of course, what the developer wants, especially if the planning grounds for a wind farm like this one are so weak.” She added, “If Kennedy Renewables cared about the local community, it would respect the overwhelming local feeling against the wind farm and cancel its application.
“If it cared one jot about the health and welfare of local children, it would not put a huge industrial development anywhere near where they live and play.” Tom Bain, of SPOT (Stop Proliferation of Turbines) Fife, said, “This area is already saturated with wind turbines. There are more huge turbine developments approved at Mossmorran, Clentrie and Goathill which have not yet been erected.
“Fife Council guidance clearly states that this area cannot take any more wind turbines.” He added, “It is disappointing to see Kennedy Renewables boasting of their investment in Fife, when they themselves are making around £6.5m per year from Little Raith and making available only £49,000 per year to the community, just 40 per cent of the government recommended benchmark for community benefit.
“What’s worse, only £26,000 of this community money has actually been spent so far in the 19 months the wind farm has been operational.” James Glen, who runs the community website Loch of Shining Waters, said a poll on the website showed that 83 per cent (307 votes) were against the extension.
He said, “Kennedy Renewables know from their community consultations that locals absolutely do not want any more industrial turbines near their communities. The existing wind farm is already too much, with its noise and shadow flicker emissions causing increasing nuisance and health problems for local residents.” Mr Glen, also the secretary of Lochgelly Community Council, attacked the “unbridled greed of Kennedy Renewables and landowner the Wemyss Estate”.
He said, “From over £6m annually, Kennedy Renewables have been ‘generously’ giving £49,000 per annum back to us while we are forced to pay them over £3m in subsidy via our leccy bills.
“This is much less than the industry standard for community benefit which at £5000 per megawatt means the community should be getting £124,000 per annum.” Last week, the Press reported that Kennedy Renewables wanted to build a visitor and education centre in addition to increasing the number of turbines.
They hope the visitor centre will allow schools, colleges, universities and community groups to visit and learn more about Fife’s first commercial wind farm and how a wind farm operates.
Last week Jonny Kennedy, the firm’s managing director, told the Press, “Our new education and visitor centre will allow us to ensure that as many local groups as possible can access and benefit from our wind farm and, in particular, we would like to encourage local schools to work with us to ensure their students get the best possible opportunities to engage with the renewables industry in their local area.”