22.05.2013 - Argyll & Bute Council refuses Ascog Farm turbine application 12/02202/PP

Over to Lochgilphead today for the scheduled meeting of the Argyll & Bute Council Planning, Protective Services and Licensing (PPSL) Committee due to consider our application for three community benefit wind turbines at Ascog Farm.

Our business was meant to start at 11.15am but did not in fact commence until 12.25. A 20 minute presentation by the Planning Officers (reproduced below or 16.3MB PowerPoint) was followed by less than five minutes of 'debate' at which it was decided a) not to hold a Discretionary Hearing - against the advice in the Planners' recommendation and, b) to refuse the planning application for turbines - in line with the Planners' recommendation - there and then.

The refusal has been made on visual grounds alone.

The three proposed 74m high turbines at Ascog Farm would be quite tall, of course, but given the Council also refused permission for a single 45.9m high turbine at High Ugadale (12/02281/PP) during the same meeting, and their Planners have also recommended refusal for another 47.02m high turbine at nearby Toward (13/00004/PP), it would appear that the Scottish Government's aim of encouraging farmers and landowners to embrace the 'renewables revolution' is a bit of a tough ask in this part of the world.

Despite proclaiming that 'Argyll and Bute's abundance of wind, water and wave energy, and the energy potentially generated by biomass, present key sustainable economic opportunities, which if harnessed and managed correctly can offset many of the problems faced by our peripheral and fragile locations' the Council appears intent on preventing any wind energy development practically throughout its region because of impacts on 'views'.

Clearly Councillors on the Planning Committee have more important matters to decide. Before our business came on to the agenda a hearty half-hour debate was had about whether Public Entertainment Licence fees for local community groups putting on events in village halls should be scrapped altogether, or waived if there were fewer than 100 (or perhaps 200, or some other number) of members of the public in attendance! Enthralling stuff and no doubt highly relevant to the town hall budget given the £3,000 odd the existing charging policy brings in each year!

Simply submitting the Ascog Farm planning application to Argyll & Bute's Planning Department has brought more in to the Council's coffers than this. Had planning been granted the project would have paid business rates to the Council annually as well as making a projected £1.5million long-term contribution to Bute's 'peripheral and fragile' economy.

Onwards and upwards? Watch this space!