Report by Head of Planning and Regulatory Services
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and invited anyone who wished to speak at the meeting to identify themselves. The Committee then introduced themselves and outlined the hearing procedure. Once that process had been completed the Chair invited the Planning Department to set out their recommendations.
Stephen Fair, Area Team Leader for Oban, Lorn and the Isles, spoke to the terms of his report advising that this proposal was for the erection of a single wind turbine on land at Gallanach Farm, Isle of Coll. He advised that the original application was for two turbines and that this was reduced to one turbine during the course of the application. The turbine measures 55 metres to hub height and 77 metres to blade tip with an output generating capacity of 750 kw. It will be a commercial enterprise exporting electricity to the national grid and therefore subject to assessment through Local Plan policy LP REN 1. The proposal includes several different elements such as road improvements with 750 metres of a new access track, a small borrow pit, crane hardstanding, control building and temporary construction compound. He referred to a number of slides and highlighted the site in terms of the Local Plan and showed the location of the various elements of the proposal. He also highlighted the nearest neighbouring properties to the site. As per the adopted Argyll and Bute Local Plan 2009 the site is designated as ‘sensitive countryside’. Policy LP REN 1 for commercial wind turbine proposals makes allowances for the erection of turbines on suitable sites so long as set criteria can be satisfactorily addressed. This criterion includes impacts on communities and their settings, nature conservation, landscape and townscape character, core paths, rights of ways, historic environment, telecommunications, tourism and peat deposits and each of these were assessed and explained in detail in the planning report. During the course of the application the Council adopted a Wind Energy Capacity Study (WECS) in 2012 and although it does not specifically provide guidance on Coll it does state that the smaller islands (Coll, Colonsay and Tiree) do not generally have the capacity to successfully absorb larger typology turbines ie those greater than 50 metres. As a strategic document, the WECS itself encourages site specific assessment on a case by case basis. The authors of the study were asked how this study should be applied specifically to Coll and they advised that as the landscape character types found on the Island were comparable to those found on Jura and Islay it would be considered appropriate to assess the turbine against three of those landscape character types – Marginal Farmland Mosaic, Coastal Parallel Ridges and Sand Dunes and Machair. The guidance set out for those landscape character types can be transposed to be applied wherever each type exists on the smaller islands. In this instance it is considered that the landscape in this part of Coll is one where there are few extensive views over the sand dunes and machair landscape character type to the coast and the rocky outcropping in the marginal farmland mosaic landscape creates a feeling of intimacy within what is actually a larger landscape in reality. The site lies in a transitional area between the different landscape character types. The relative height and level of the turbine set against the surrounding landscape features mean the scale is more readily accepted into this transitional area than may otherwise be the case if a turbine of this size were to be sited in only one of the main character types. Mr Fair referred to the contents of supplementary planning reports 1 and 2 which addressed further representations received from third parties. He advised that an updated petition with 95 signatures had been received and in terms of public participation there have been 29 direct objections, 1 petition with 95 signatures, 4 neutral responses and 21 representations of support. He advised that the Applicant was opposed to conditions 4 and 5 recommended by Planning and was opposed to the requirement for a Section 75 Agreement. A detailed assessment of these responses is contained in the original report of handling and supplementary planning reports 1 and 2. Mr Fair provided a summary of the issues raised by objectors, confirming that they related to: proximity to residential properties, noise, shadow flicker, visual impact, road impact, tourist impact, need for the proposal, wildlife impact, character of the island, ornithology, impact on seals, grid capacity, removal at end of lifeline, devaluation of property, skylining, call for a strategic approach and community benefit. He advised that some of these were not material planning considerations and others had been addressed by statutory consultees or were not supported by Officer assessment. He advised that the main issues to consider were the visual impact of the proposal and the landscape impact of the proposal. He referred to a number of photographs which gave views of the site of the proposed turbine from various locations around the Island. He advised that visual impact was a key issue for determining the application and was somewhat subjective in terms of the degree of impact. The Planning assessment is that views of the site are progressive for the majority of the visitors and population travelling from Arinagour, whereby the turbine first appears over a long distance view. He advised that landscape impact was the subject of concern by SNH who were also the main funders behind the Council technical WECS document. Mr Fair recommended that subject to the conclusion of a Section 75 Agreement the planning application be granted for the reasons stated in the report and subject to 9 conditions also detailed in the report.
Roger McMichael of Atmos Consulting, Agents for the
development, spoke in support of the application by Gallanach Green Generation
Ltd for the erection of a single wind turbine up to 77m at Gallanach on
Coll. He advised that Atmos Consulting
designed the scheme and prepared the application and accompanying Environmental
Appraisal. He advised that he would
speak briefly on the planning issues, Mr Neil Smith one of the Directors of
Gallanach Green Generation Ltd, would talk about the project in the local
context and thereafter he would give a presentation on the key matter of the
case which was the landscape and visual impact.
Mr McMichael highlighted how the original feasibility study for
Development Coll selected this location as the most suitable and that a project
of this scale was considered feasible.
The planning application that resulted from that earlier work was for
two turbines up to 77m in height and advised that it was indicative of the
Applicant’s preparedness to positively engage in the planning process that the
project was amended down to a single turbine.
He advised that the scheme required numerous surveys and that the
Applicant was fully responsive to requests for these surveys and following all
that work the Planning Service is able to support this proposal which is
welcomed. Mr McMichael highlighted the
benefits of the project which will support 350 Scottish homes with green energy
which will go some way to assisting the Scottish Government with their target
of 500 MW of community and locally owned renewable energy projects by
2020. He also referred to the Scottish
Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Loan Scheme (CARES) announced in
April. The project would generate
commercial rates each year for the Council and £10,000 per annum for a
community fund, at least matching the contributions expected of projects
supported by the CARES loan scheme. He advised that this project does not
benefit from CARES funding but as an alternative the Applicant is offering a
similar turbine development on his land if the community wish to progress a
scheme. He also advised of benefits
which will accrue from the construction and operational phases and that once
operational advised that the funding stream will directly support families on
the island and in the region and the bulk of these funds are likely to be
recirculated in the local and regional economies. He referred to surveys undertaken in respect
of protected species, including the various bird species that are qualifying
interests of the designated sites on Coll.
He advised that whilst evidence was found of a number of species
including otter and bats, as well as protected geese, the location of the
proposal ensures that impacts will not be significant and can pass Appropriate
Assessment without specific mitigation.
He referred to the suggested planning conditions including condition 5
and a related recommendation for a Section 75 Agreement in relation to geese
and corncrake. He advised that given that
SNH, as statutory advisor to the Council has not sought any goose related
mitigation it is surprising that the RSPB requests have been adopted in the
recommendations. This project is a
modest wind project and the proposed monitoring is only appropriate for larger
schemes. He advised that the linkage
between monitoring and potential shut down will almost certainly kill this
project. Banks are a key part of
delivering renewable energy projects and the uncertainty that the condition
brings to the planning permission means that it will be impossible to quantify
the likely return of the project and therefore make it impossible to obtain
project finance. He requested that
Condition 5 and the associated Section 75 Agreement for goose management be
removed from any planning permission. He
also referred to condition 4 which posed more undue burden on this
project. Mr McMichael then spoke on the
impact on amenity of those living nearest to wind proposals. He advised that assessments were carried out
in respect of noise and shadow flicker and the proposal was found to be
satisfactory. He advised that the
benefits of this project are very real and outweigh any perceived environmental
impact which the turbine may have. The
Applicant has worked very closely with the Council planning service and their
consultees. Planning officials have
undertaken detailed analysis of the capacity of the island to accommodate this
proposal and are still able to justify that it will be acceptable. Mr McMichael advised that he believed the
development is in accordance with the commitment set out in Scottish Planning
Policy to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources
and will go some way to achieving the target of 100% of
Neil Smith, one of six Directors of Gallanach Green
Generation Ltd, spoke to the contents of a presentation which he had prepared
and circulated to Members. He advised
that he has farmed Gallanach since 1990, has been secretary of the Community
Council and formed the community fuel company.
He advised that in 2008 the community company Development Coll
commissioned Atmos Consulting to look into a commercial turbine for Coll and
that he was very supportive of this especially when Gallanach was identified as
the best location. He advised that this
project fell through because at that time there was no electrical capacity and
not because of any resistance from the community at large. He advised that capacity became available in
2010 but at that time the community was fully stretched financially and
management wise on the new community hall project so there was no appetite for
a wind turbine project even though a HIE survey that year showed a majority of
islanders wanted a community turbine with only 29 against. He advised that Gallanach Green Generation
secured capacity from SSE and applied for planning permission in early 2010 and
following completion of a number of surveys and studies a formal planning
application was submitted in September 2011.
Since then the Planning Department, at increasing levels of seniority,
have visited several times and conducted exhaustive studies of the visual
impact involved. Such comprehensive
visual assessments were not carried out for other turbines consented on Coll,
which, although smaller are less graceful, spin faster and are more
conspicuously sited. He advised it would
take 50 turbines the size of Grishipol to produce the same output, and save the
same carbon emission as our single one.
Mr Smith referred to the objections submitted in respect of this
proposal and advised that he would like to put into perspective the number of
objections because he knew that the impression has been given that a
significant proportion of the island’s population objects and he stated that
this was not the case. Mr Smith referred
in detail to the individual objections and to the petition which was
submitted. Mr Smith then spoke about the
benefits of the scheme and the community aspect advising that Gallanach Green
Generation believe Coll should be able to achieve the same benefits Tiree has
from wind power. He advised that the
company were offering the land free and, from their own turbine’s profits, the
upfront costs of securing a community turbine the same as this one and Tiree’s
and that it will be difficult for Coll to achieve this otherwise. He advised that the community were still
struggling to fund the new hall’s upkeep so raising the considerable upfront
costs to attain planning permission would be a daunting risk. He advised that a community wind turbine would
still require planning permission and if this should be refused or for any
other reason the project fails Gallanach Green Generation will instead make an
annual contribution of £10,000 to the community for the 20 year life of the
FITs scheme. He advised that Government
guidelines for financial contribution to communities from commercial turbine
schemes are less generous and as far as he was aware no other Coll turbine
contributes to community funds. He
advised that wind turbines were a fact of life in
Mr McMichael then went on to talk in some detail about the findings of the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment which was carried out upon the Gallanach proposal in order to determine the magnitude and potential extent of impact on the landscape and visual resource of the area. In accordance with best practice the assessment was completed in line with SNH guidance on natural heritage assessment. He referred to a number of slides prepared to support the findings of the Landscape and Visual Impact assessment and which set out the key points which have been raised through the consultation process with SNH and Argyll and Bute Council and which were felt to be most significant in relation to the proposal ie Height and Scale, Sensitivity, Landscape Character impact, Designations, Visual impact and Cumulative assessment.
As there were no statutory consultees present the Chair then invited Supporters to make their representations.
Angus Kennedy advised that he and his family have lived on Coll for generations and that he believed in renewables and that over the summer months he had installed solar panels and that it was incumbent on everyone to be sustainable. He advised that he had absolutely no fear for the value of his property or the integrity of the site or the wildlife etc. He advised he had a great deal of regard for the Applicant, that he was someone with integrity and was transparent in dealing with the community of Coll and has tried his best in bringing the community along with him. He advised that he has spoken to visitors and tourists coming to the island and that he has found no evidence of fear that people will not come to the island anymore if we have a wind turbine. He advised that he lived at the north end of Coll and will pass the site everyday. He advised that he felt very uncomfortable when approached and asked to sign the petition. He advised that he felt strongly that an island like Coll depended on its own natural resources and that we should be using our natural resources like wind. He advised that he was interested in the current consultation document published by the Scottish Government which proposes reducing electricity bills for communities living close to wind turbines and that he would welcome this. He advised that anything that provides for the future economy of Coll should be welcomed and that the island needed inward investment and that this was an opportunity for our own endeavours to provide something for the island. He advised that we owed it to our future generations to invest in the island.
Peter Wilson advised that he has lived on Coll for five years and that he would like to talk about what the opportunities of erecting a wind turbine would bring to Coll. He advised that there has been an influx of young people to the island and that there was more demand for public services. He advised that young families were proactive in many community groups and were committed to sustainability and improvements to the island and that without this you get a less dynamic and less sustainable place to live and work. He advised that large employers struggle to recruit and retain well qualified and knowledgeable staff and that young families were likely to remain longer if living in a sustainable community. He advised that this development will support generations to come and bring benefits such as improvements to the roads and that construction work will boost the economy and benefit local traders. He advised if specialist traders needed to come onto the island during the construction phase local accommodation providers would benefit as they would need a place to eat and stay. He referred to the £10,000 per annum being offered to the community and advised that this would be hugely beneficial as it could mean being able to access more and improved services on the island with this funding. He advised that everyone on the island should be given the opportunity to remain on Coll and that this development will keep young people and families on Coll. He advised that he just hoped sense and not emotion prevails when determining this application.
The Chair then invited Objectors to make their representations.
Colin Scott summarised the contents of a presentation which
was circulated to the Committee and advised that for over forty years he has
been a Rural Land Agent dealing with land and estate management including major
environmental matters. His experience
has been gained with Buccleuch Estates in
Jo Scott advised that she would like to read out a statement prepared by Mr and Mrs Smalley, proprietors of Tigh Na Mara, Isle of Coll who had objected to this proposal but were unable to attend the hearing today. A copy of this statement was circulated to Members and stated the following:-
We speak to you not as members of any group, but as a family
that has committed wholeheartedly to this wonderful island for the last 20
years in my case, 40 for my husband.
After working hard for different people here, in many guises, we were
delighted to be given the chance in April 2011 to run our own business, the
Colin Kennedy advised that he was born and bred on the island and that he has a turbine which he cannot use as there is no grid capacity. He advised that it appeared to him that this proposal was for an ENERCON turbine and that he has visited a couple of sites on Orkney and Lewis where these turbines are located. He advised that ENERCON produce a pack for these types of turbines which specify the minimum requirements in respect of the infrastructure required to build these turbines, minimum specifications for crane technology and minimum requirements for access roads to the construction site. He advised what these minimum requirements were and advised that in his opinion this type of turbine was not suitable for Coll as the island would not be able to accommodate construction or transportation of the turbine to and on the site. He advised that he could not understand why this document prepared by ENERCON was not produced for this proposal. He also stated that consideration should be given to everyone who signed the petition and that they should be given full value.
The Chair then invited Members to ask questions.
Councillor Devon sought clarification regarding Mr McMichael’s reference to a community turbine at Arinagour as she was not aware of any having been approved.
Mr Fair confirmed there was consent for one turbine at Arinagour and that this was for Mr Kennedy and not the community. He referred to a community survey which had previously been carried out. He also advised that the Applicant had previously submitted during the course of his application, the offer of a site for a community wind turbine.
Councillor Devon referred to the WECS which highlighted
specific issues covering
Mr Fair advised that this was correct but went on to explain about the detailed survey carried out for Coll and explained why Planning felt the proposal could be supported based on the landscape character types in evidence at the site, as well as the turbines relative height and because the site sat within an of rocky outcropping. He advised that the WECS document was a technical document to guide developments, alongside the Development Plan policies which were taken account of in the first instance.
Councillor Devon referred to the statement in the WECS document about small islands not able to support turbines over 50 metres.
Mr Fair advised that the Development Plan was looked at first and that the WECS document was not part of the Development Plan and that it was just a technical document to assist decision making. The WECS advises that detailed assessment is necessary and that in this case, all things considered, the recommendation was for approval of the reduced scheme as a single turbine.
Councillor Colville referred to there being no planning history relating to the site and no anemometer erected to monitor wind speeds. He referred to policy LP REN 1 and asked on what technical basis was the site deemed efficient.
Mr Fair advised that a lack of anemometer on site did not necessarily mean the developer has not done his job. He referred to Coll and Tiree benefiting from prevailing winds. He advised that turbines were erected at other local properties on the island and it was fair to assume that there was plenty wind.
Councillor Colville asked the same question to the Applicant.
Mr Smith advised that he had initially submitted a planning application for an anemometer to ascertain wind speed and that this was withdrawn when it became apparent to him that he could extrapolate information from Benbecula and Tiree studies. He advised that this site would generate wind speeds of up to 9.94 metres per second.
Councillor Colville asked about the size of the borrow pit and asked why this was not being dealt with as a separate issue.
Mr Fair advised that the borrow pit location illustrated measuring 20 metres long by 10 metres wide alongside the temporary site compound. He advised there was no proposal to bring aggregate on to the site and that the aggregate required will be found on site, per the submissions of the applicant. He advised that the borrow pit was indicative, with no cross sections or details of the extent of excavations, and taking account of the size of project, he anticipated a further application coming forward with details of the borrow pit proposals.
Councillor Currie referred to Mr Scott advising that SNH had sought a moratorium and advised that he could see no mention of this in any of his documents and asked why Mr Scott had said this when SNH were not objecting to the proposal.
Mr Scott advised that SNH had written to Planners advising that the proposal should be refused and that within a week had stated they could only comment on an advisory capacity and withdrew their previous letter. He advised that he did not know why this had happened.
Councillor Currie asked if that meant what Mr Scott had said about the moratorium was not true.
Mr Scott advised that the SNH Officer in Oban had stated that she was prepared to work with the Council to look at the type of turbine that would be suitable and recommended a moratorium period.
Mr Fair advised that the only time he had heard the word moratorium being used was when other Councils had requested this from the Scottish Government in respect of wind farm applications and that this request had been rejected. He advised that SNH suggested the Council adopt a strategic approach for determining wind turbine applications on Coll. He advised that the Council already have a robust framework for dealing with turbines in the form of the Development Plan and the WECS. He also confirmed that SNH had not objected to the application but had raised concerns about the landscape and visual impacts.
Councillor Currie commented on whether or not a Section 75 Agreement was necessary and what the detail of this would be, given that SNH and RSPB had not objected to the development. He asked if it was being considered on the basis of comments from the RSPB which was a voluntary charity and not a statutory consultee.
Mr Fair replied yes.
Councillor Freeman advised it was his understanding that this was a 750 kw proposal and advised that part of the information passed to Members included an email from SSE stating that applications for over 50kw would be subject to current Taynuilt Grid transmission constraints and asked if this would apply to this proposal.
Mr Fair advised that grid capacity was not a material planning consideration. He advised that he could not qualify SSE constraints and that this did not need to influence the Committee decision.
Councillor Freeman referred to the Coll Protecting Group and the electoral roll being 137. He asked if all the 137 individuals were opposed to the proposal.
Mr Scott advised that 102 of the home owners were opposed to the proposal.
Councillor Freeman asked how many home owners there were and was advised that it was 242.
Councillor Kinniburgh asked if Mr McMichael’s reference to the wind turbine outstanding at Arinagour was that it would be of a similar size to the proposed turbine.
Mr McMichael advised that the Arinagour turbine was smaller but due to its location the tip height above sea level would not be dissimilar to this proposed.
Councillor Kinniburgh sought clarification on the height of the turbine in relation to it exceeding the 50m height and asked if any cognisance was given to views from the beach.
Mr Fair advised that SNH were the main funders of the WECS study and that the WECS had set a range of thresholds. The threshold of 50m was set to define turbine typologies and capacity for those higher turbines does generally not exist on Coll, Tiree or Colonsay. He advised that smaller turbines in a more prominent location could have similar impacts to well sited larger turbines. He advised that the proposed turbine was bigger but a considerable distance away from the main public vantage points and neighbouring residential property. He confirmed the site had been assessed from adjacent beaches and in these views there was very little to scale the turbine against which mitigated the height to a degree.
Councillor MacMillan referred to the impact on the roads and referred to a turbine going off the road north of Tarbert and that turbines were not allowed to be transported on the by pass road at Tarbert which was a first class road and asked if Planners were satisfied that the Coll road would be suitable for transporting the turbine as nothing was specifically mentioned in the report.
Mr Fair advised that the Roads Engineer had originally asked for more detail from the Applicant which had been provided. He advised that the Roads colleagues now accepted the proposal subject to compliance with the information provided. He also referred to the Roads Act allowing the Council to have additional control on the impact the proposal would have on the public road.
Councillor McNaughton referred to the suggestion by the Applicant that condition 5 should be removed which referred to ornithology monitoring and asked was it not a fact that it was usual for these monitoring programmes to be undertaken before installation and that this was a matter of course.
Mr Fair advised that significant work has already been done on ornithological surveys and it was at the RSPB’s request that monitoring be undertaken.
Councillor MacDougall advised that each application was looked at on its own merits and that all had different reasons for approval. He referred to the Motion in respect of the Tiree proposal which was quoted in Mr Scott’s presentation and advised that proposal was completely different. He then went on to ask why there was an underground hydro cable at Gallanach.
Mr Smith advised that power cables were above ground and that the only part underground was the cable going into his house.
Councillor Devon referred to SNH concerns about landscape and visual impact and asked if these concerns had been taken on board.
Mr Fair advised that planning had taken account of both the competing views of SNH landscape architecture advisers stated in SNH consultation responses, versus the Agent’s landscape architecture adviser, who despite looking at the same characteristics had drawn different conclusions. He advised that SNH had expressed concern about the landscape and visual impact but did not object to the proposal.
Councillor McQueen asked if the road would be plated.
Mr Fair advised that further technical details regarding the road would be dealt with under roads legalisation and not under planning, beyond the details already submitted.
Councillor Colville commented that only the recommendation from Roads regarding the Bellmouth appeared to be the subject of a condition and asked how the rest of the Roads recommendations were being covered.
Mr Fair confirmed that these were covered under condition 9.
Councillor Colville referred to the Appropriate Assessment at page 35 of the Agenda Pack and asked why Planners were recommending condition 8 when SNH had stated that the site is not designated for landscape, archaeological or nature conservation purposes.
Mr Fair advised that West of Scotland Archaeology Service had required this condition.
Mr Fair replied that generally the planning service does accept West of Scotland Archaeology Service’s advice.
Councillor Kinniburgh asked how often the Coll Protecting Group met.
Mr Scott advised that they met approximately three times per year.
Councillor Taylor asked if planning had been challenged by the visual presentation by the objectors.
Mr Fair advised that it was his understanding the visual presentations were done to industry standards using wireframe software and that these were accepted.
Councillor Colville referred to the noise from turbines and that no reference was made in the report to noise and the effect this could have on neighbouring properties.
Mr Fair advised that noise impact was taken account of by Environmental Health Officers who stated that there would be no adverse impact as summarised in the report. He advised that noise increased with more wind turbines and varied depending on the turbine type and distance from sensitive receptors. He advised that the nearest property to the turbine was one of the Applicant’s Directors at 500m away and that it would be in his interest to ensure noise was not an issue. The nearest third party residence was 760m away.
At the end of the question and answer session the meeting adjourned for a 10 minute break.
The Committee reconvened at 4.10 pm.
The Chair invited everyone to sum up.
Mr Fair advised that this proposal was for a single wind turbine 55 metres to hub height, 77 metres to blade tip with an output generating capacity of 750 KW. He advised that Members had heard from supporters and objectors and referred to some of the points raised. He advised that reference was made to a community application and a single application and stated that this was not a material planning consideration and should not sway the Committee decision. He advised that community benefit was also not a material consideration. He advised that the key issues were landscape and visual impact and that even though concerns about this had been raised by SNH they had not objected to the proposal. He recommended that the Committee support the application subject to the conclusion of a Section 75 Agreement and 9 conditions.
Mr McMichael advised that lots of issues and questions had been raised. He advised that the WECS document was material but not part of the Development Plan and was intended as a strategic study. He referred to a lot of detailed surveys having been carried out and that a lot of consideration was given to locating the site in the right place. He advised that actual views of the turbine would be few and that actual views with the sea behind would be limited. He advised that he believed the site was acceptable and that Planning also thought it was acceptable. He advised that SNH had not objected to the proposal. He advised that the turbine was very similar to the Tiree one which was ultimately consented. In terms of visuals the turbine did not show a high degree of harm and was not a strong feature at the gateway to the island and that the Arinagour turbine would be more prominent in that gateway view. He advised that the turbine rotation speed would be slow and that smaller turbines rotated faster which could increase the visual effect. He agreed that the visual view points had been accepted by the Planning department as appropriate and that there was no suggestion from SNH that they were unacceptable. In respect of Tourism he advised there was no evidence to link turbines to impact on tourism and that the co-owners of the Coll hotel were supportive of the proposal. He advised that Mr and Mrs Smalley had not objected to the Arinagour proposal. In respect of the Grid he confirmed the Applicant had secured grid connection. In terms of the impact on roads he advised that the Roads Engineer’s response to the further information provided stated that the Council position was fully secured and that the Roads Act will allow the Council to have full control of the impact on the road and doesn’t impede the ability for consent today. He referred to planning gain and stated that planning gain was wholly inappropriate for this development and to seek planning gain based on the RSPB recommendation was burdensome on this modest project.
Mr Smith referred to the electrical capacity and advised that there was none in 2008 and that there was capacity from 2010 and that they had secured it for this proposal. He advised that units up to 50kw can be connected immediately and units above 50kw would wait until 2017. He referred to the petition. He referred to Planners being asked if they were challenged over the visual presentations and advised that these were all agreed with the Council and SNH. He advised that the turbine would not be visible from the village. Only 15% would be visible from the road between Arinagour and the site and it would be hardly visible from the ferry.
Mr Kennedy recognised concerns about “not in my backyard” and stated that concerns on a personal level where perfectly valid. He advised that this was a golden opportunity for Coll to contribute to the national and international aim of lowering carbon emissions for future generations.
Mr Wilson advised he had nothing further to add.
Mr Scott advised that the photomontages were available on the planning website for many months and were extremely accurate and a true picture of what you see. He advised that it was his opinion there was uncertainty about two things, the planning attitude to the WECS document which was important and set in stone and could not be set aside by a Planning Officer. He advised that it was a letter from Mrs Anne Blum of SNH which had been circulated to Members which stated she was prepared to work with the Council Planning Officers to see what type of turbine would be suitable for smaller islands.
The Chair asked all parties to confirm they had received a fair hearing and they all confirmed this to be the case.
Councillor Currie advised that the Committee were not here to get the popular vote and had to look at the proposal as presented to them at the hearing and on paper. He advised that he supported the application for all the reasons stated in the planner’s report. He referred to condition 4 and advised that he thought it could be altered with the final detail of the building being agreed by the Planning Officer in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair rather than specific details being part of the condition. He also referred to condition 5 which was as a result of a recommendation by a voluntary charity and he felt that this was very burdensome for a single turbine application and he was minded to delete this condition as it was only a suggestion by the charity RSPB. He advised that he thought condition 5 could be removed but he would need to seek advice about the need for the Section 75 Agreement. Councillor Currie also suggested that an additional condition should be added to cover any possible problems with the roads and that it was not sufficient to say this would be covered by the Roads Act or in the details of a letter dated 21 January 2012 which he had not seen. He advised that a special condition should be added to cover the roads.
Councillor Devon advised that she disagreed. She referred to the motion in respect of the Tiree Turbine and that this was back in 2008 when there were no guidelines on turbines to take account of. She advised that Scottish Government guidance was not being adhered to and the Council’s own WECs document was not being adhered to. She advised that SNH had genuine concerns about the landscape and visual impact and that she would be putting forward a Motion to refuse the Application.
Councillor MacDougall advised that he would support Councillor Devon.
Councillor Freeman advised that he was minded to go with Councillor Currie and that the proposal was fully compliant with all policies in the Local Plan and that there was no reference to it being approved as a minor departure. He referred to the site visit and that he’d had a good look from various points which did not raise any concerns. He referred to comments that the WECS study was set in stone and advised that nothing was set in stone not even the Development Plan where policies could be set aside if there was good enough reason. He advised that the condition specifically about roads could include a request that an assessment of the road be carried out prior to construction so that the road could be brought back to the same condition at the end of construction. He advised that he had no issue with condition 5 being removed as long as the Council were not open to legal challenge. He advised that SNH had made comments but had certainly not objected to the proposal and that he would support Councillor Currie.
Councillor McNaughton advised that he also agreed with Councillor Currie. He agreed that condition 5 was not necessary as the site had been monitored enough and that he totally agreed that a condition should be added in respect of the roads as they needed protected.
Councillor Kinniburgh advised that it was always very difficult to come to a decision especially in a small community where opinion was divided and he agreed that nothing was set in stone. He advised that he was undecided and would like to hear Councillor Devon’s Motion before making a decision and if the Motion goes along the lines of what he thought he might be minded to support Councillor Devon.
Councillor Colville indicated his support for the Planning recommendations and that Members have to have confidence in our Officers. He advised that he had previously had various concerns but that these had all been addressed. He advised that in terms of Condition 5 the applicant had offered a solution that could be accepted up to a point.
Councillor McQueen advised that he agreed about the roads and would support Councillor Currie.
Councillor MacMillan advised that he had huge concerns about the roads and that not enough emphasis had been put on this was in the report and that he would support Councillor Devon.
Councillor Taylor advised that he felt as Chair he should support the Planners and that he did not see any detrimental issues brought forward. He said it was vital that economic development needed to be sustainable and that his position would be to support the Planners.
Mr Fair when asked confirmed that the removal of condition 5 would not lead to legal challenge.
At this point the Chair ruled and the Committee agreed to adjourn at 4.55 pm to allow Members to formulate competent motions. The public were asked to leave the room.
At approximately 5.15 pm the public were invited back into the room and the meeting was reconvened.
The Chair thanked the public for their patience and advised that he was minded to support the recommendation contained in the report in full. From the discussion which had taken place he was of the view that none of the Members were supportive of that position. The other Members agreed that this was the case.
In my opinion this development is contrary to local plan Policy LP ENV 1 regarding the Impact on the General Environment as it does not protect, restore or enhance the established character and local distinctiveness of the landscape in which it is to be located due to its uncharacteristic scale, which would not only give rise to an adverse environmental impact upon its immediate surroundings but on the landscape character of the whole island of Coll.
This proposal by virtue of its height, blade diameter and rotation will have significant adverse landscape and visual consequences beyond that suggested in the Applicant’s landscape assessment, which underestimates the impact of a development of this nature and scale, in what must be regarded as a sensitive island location. The impact would be significant from numerous views, including the remoter upland and coastal areas, as well as transport routes to the east and centre of the island. The small scale of other built elements and other natural features in the landscape will result, in my opinion, in the turbine introducing a new and dominating reference point which would be incongruous in terms of the small scale of the receiving environment. The proposal would have an adverse effect on the sand dune and machair landscape character type, as well as the marginal farmland mosaic landscape character type, both of which are low lying coastal landscapes which are sensitive to change, particularly from inappropriately sited or uncharacteristically tall structures.
The height of the turbine relative to other structures in the landscape is a key consideration in terms of landscape “fit”, as different sensitivities come into play once wind turbines exceed the height of other common built environment and landscape features. The existing pattern of turbine development on Coll is domesticated/small scale and primarily below 35 m. This proposal is 51% higher that the Scottish Government recommendation of 50 m and therefore well in excess of what is considered likely to be appropriate in an island context. Its scale also conflicts with the recommendations of the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study which identifies that smaller islands will not normally have capacity in landscape terms for turbines in excess of 50 m.
I consider that the scale of the proposal is disproportionate to that of the surrounding landscape and that it will, by virtue of its size and movement, constitute an inappropriately large and dominant development, which would undermine the character of the landscape contrary to local plan Policies LP ENV 1 and LP REN 1.
I propose that this application is recommended for refusal.
Moved by Councillor Mary-Jean Devon, seconded by Councillor Alistair MacDougall.
That the application is granted for the reasons detailed in the report and also subject to the conditions detailed in the report with the exception of the following:-
Condition 5 should be deleted and the requirement for a Section 75 Agreement should be removed.
The following extra condition should also be added:-
No development shall commence or is hereby authorised until a full Traffic Management Plan, including full details of the results of a detailed engineering survey of the public road network used to enable the development across its entire length between the point of arrival on the Isle of Coll and the entrance to the new private access road hereby approved, along with all mitigation measures to enable the delivery of the turbine rotors, mast, machinery, aggregate, plant equipment and materials, is submitted to and approved in writing by the Planning Authority. The development shall thereafter be completed in strict accordance with such details as are approved.
Moved by Councillor Robin Currie, seconded by Councillor George Freeman.
A vote was then taken by a show of hands.
The Amendment was carried by 6 votes to 4 and the Committee resolved accordingly.
Agreed to grant planning permission subject to the following conditions and reasons:-
1. If, by reason of any circumstances not foreseen by the applicant or operator, the wind turbine, fails to produce electricity supply to a local grid for a continuous period of 12 months then it will be deemed to have ceased to be required and, unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Planning Authority, the wind turbine and its ancillary equipment shall be dismantled and removed from the site and the area of the site impacted by development shall be restored in accordance with the agreed scheme of restoration as per the supporting Environmental Statement, all to the satisfaction of the Planning Authority.
Reason: In accordance with the Council’s policy to ensure that full and satisfactory restoration of the wind turbine site takes place should it fall into disuse.
2. No development shall commence or is hereby authorised until details of the colour finish to be applied to the turbine, rotors and mast have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Planning Authority. The development shall be implemented using the approved colour scheme and shall be maintained as such thereafter for the duration of the installation.
Reason: In the interests of visual amenity.
3. This planning permission shall be for a limited period, expiring 25 years from the commencement of the commercial operation of the development, the date of which shall first be notified in writing to the Planning Authority. Within 12 months of the end of that period, unless a further planning application is submitted and approved, the turbine and associated development shall be dismantled and removed from the site and the land reinstated in accordance with the applicant’s statement of intentions as per the supporting Environmental Statement and conditions listed below, to the satisfaction of the Planning Authority.
Reason: In order that the Planning Authority has the opportunity to review the circumstances pertaining to the consent, which is of a temporary nature and in the interests of the visual amenity of the area.
4. The control building shall be faced in natural stone/smooth cement or wet dash render painted a dark grey colour (or other natural/recessive finish as agreed in writing by the Planning Authority) with the roof finished in natural slate or a good quality slate substitute, samples or full details of which shall be submitted for the prior written approval of the Planning Authority prior to building works commencing.
Reason: In order to secure an appropriate appearance in the interests of amenity and to help assimilate the building into its landscape setting.
5. At all times during the lifespan of the installation, the wind turbine approved shall be fitted with a 25 candela omni-directional red lighting or infrared lighting with an optimised flash pattern of 60 flashes per minute of 200ms to 500ms at the highest practicable point.
Reason: In the interests of aviation safety.
6. No development shall commence or is hereby authorised until the proposed access is formed in accordance with the Council’s Standard Roads Drawing SD 08/004a; including visibility splays of 42 metres by 2.4 metres from the centre line of the proposed access with the bellmouth area surfaced in dense bitumen macadam for a distance of 5 metres back from the existing carriageway edge. Prior to work starting on site the bellmouth shall be formed to at least base course standard and the visibility splays shall be cleared of all obstructions over 1.0 metre in height above the level of the adjoining carriageway. The final wearing surface on the bellmouth shall be completed prior to the development first being brought into use and the visibility splays shall be maintained clear of all obstructions over 1.0 metre in height thereafter in perpetuity.
Reason: In the interests of road safety
7. Prior to development commencing a method statement for an archaeological watching brief shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Planning Authority in consultation with the West of Scotland Archaeology Service. The method statement shall be prepared by a suitably qualified person and shall provide for the recording, recovery and reporting of items of interest or finds within the application site. Thereafter the development shall be implemented in accordance with the duly approved details with the suitably qualified person being afforded access at all reasonable times during ground disturbance works.
Reason: In order to protect archaeological resources.
8. The development shall be implemented in accordance with the details specified on the application form dated 27/09/11 and the approved drawing reference numbers:
Plan 1 of 5 (Location Plan at scale of 1:5000)
Plan 2 of 5 (Block Plan at scale of 1:1250)
Plan 3 of 5 (Road Junction Plan at scale of 1:1250)
Plan 4 of 5 (Wind Turbine Elevations at scale of 1:250)
Plan 5 of 5 (Kiosk, GRP and Crane Hardstanding at scale of 1:440, 1:100)
Supplementary Transportation Information submitted by letter dated 25th January 2012
All mitigation measures recommended in the submitted Environmental Statement in the interests of nature conservation, including those at table 6.7
unless the prior written approval of the planning authority is obtained for other materials/finishes/for an amendment to the approved details under Section 64 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended).
Reason: For the purpose of clarity, to ensure that the development is implemented in accordance with the approved details.
9. No development shall commence or is hereby authorised until a full Traffic Management, including full details of the results of a detailed engineering survey of the public road network used to enable the development across its entire length between the point of arrival on the Isle of Coll and the entrance to the new private access road hereby approved, along with all mitigation measures to enable the delivery of the turbine rotors, mast, machinery, aggregate, plant equipment and materials, is submitted to and approved in writing by the Planning Authority. The development shall thereafter be completed in strict accordance with such details as are approved.
Reason: In the interests of roads and pedestrian safety and to ensure that the development is undertaken in a manner that first secures adequate protection to and repair of the Island’s road network.
(Reference: Report by Head of Planning and Regulatory Services dated 1 August 2012, supplementary planning report no 1 dated 12 September 2012 and supplementary planning report no 2 dated 16 October 2012, submitted)