Show some respect, says islands councillor
GREEN DEVELOPER SLAMMED BY LOCAL POLITICIAN OVER SECTION OF WIND TURBINE LEFT ON COLL BEACH
AN ISLAND councillor has condemned the actions of a businessman who has left a piece of wind turbine on a Coll beach.
A large piece of the turbine has been deposited on the island’s Gallanach beach since the beginning of July.
Mary-Jean Devon, Councillor for Oban South and the Isles, said the actions of Neil Smith, director of a Gallanach Green Generation Limited, have shown a ‘complete lack of respect’ for his fellow islanders.
Mr Smith was granted permission to erect a 77-metre tall wind turbine at Gallanach farm following a public hearing in October 2012.
Progress stalled after an appeal to allow machinery and equipment to be taken to the site via Coll’s unsuitable single-track roads was rejected last year by Argyll and Bute council.
In May, Coll residents described their ‘disbelief’ as Mr Smith then brought equipment onto the island via barges, and began channelling a route through the rocks to the turbine site, without permission.
It has now also been confirmed that, as well as the unauthorised works in May, Mr Smith has changed the age, model and size of the turbine without prior consultation with the council.
There is also no permanent access route for maintaining the turbine, given that the channelling through the rock face was classed as a temporary measure.
Councillor Devon, who lives on Mull, said: ‘Mr Smith has absolutely no regard for the island, no respect for Argyll and Bute council’s planners and no respect for the people of Coll, and that greatly disappoints me.
‘I would also like to clarify that this has absolutely nothing to do with wind turbines.
‘I have personally put through amendments for planning permission for turbines, including this one in 2012, and I’m fully aware of the benefits they can have for these small communities.’
An Argyll and Bute council spokesman described Mr Smith’s behaviour as ‘disappointing’, but said the constuction of a different model of turbine was a ‘minor change’.
He said: ‘We understand that the beach area is being used to store the tower until such time as the weather conditions allow an additional barge with a crane to move it onto the access road.
‘The landing of components and materials, the creation of storage areas and the construction of temporary roads are permitted developments and, as such, do not require planning permission.
‘Disappointingly, the developer has carried out works in an area outwith the original planning consent in order to gain access to the turbine site.
‘After we became aware of these unauthorised works we took all reasonable steps to compel the developer to follow the correct procedures. The developer has also submitted a traffic management plan which we are currently examining. This will be reported to the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing (PPSL) Committee at its August meeting.
‘The developer has submitted fresh planning applications for the area of works outwith the original planning consent. We will consider these applications on their own merits, in the context of our local development plan. We are currently considering a request to vary the turbine model to a 600kw Vestas V44 with a hub height of 53m.
‘‘We are now working to ensure this project progresses in the most appropriate manner.’
Mr Smith declined to make a comment.
BLOWING UP A STORM: the section of turbine on Gallanach Beach and (above) councillor Devon