Show some re­spect, says is­lands coun­cil­lor

GREEN DEVEL­OPER SLAMMED BY LO­CAL POLITI­CIAN OVER SEC­TION OF WIND TUR­BINE LEFT ON COLL BEACH

The Oban Times - - News - STEVEN RAE srae@oban­times.co.uk

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

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