University wind farm appeal costs to be footed by Fife Council

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Taxpayers will foot the bill for the third planning challenge lost by Fife Council in relation to St Andrews University’s proposed wind farm.

A Scottish Government reporter upheld the university’s appeal against the north east planning committee’s rejection of amendments to its consent for Kenly wind farm.

The council will now be liable for a portion of the university’s expenses in the case, although the amount has yet to be determined.

The ancient Fife seat of learning has previously accused councillors of persistent unreasonable behaviour over its bid to erect six 328ft high turbines at Kenly Farm, near Boarhills.

It is awaiting the result of a fourth appeal against refusal to allow it to lay a nine-mile long underground cable connecting the green energy site to its estate in St Andrews.

St Andrews councillor Brian Thomson said the university’s victory was no surprise.

He said: “Scottish Government reporters have now upheld three appeals by the university regarding the proposed wind farm, and they have clearly taken the view that the respective applications complied with planning policy.

“I’ve had my concerns about the proposed wind farm, but it’s essential that planning applications are assessed against the provisions of the development plan, or other material considerations.

“In this case, where there’s not been a sufficiently robust reason for refusal, the council has ended up with an award of expenses against it, at a time when its finances are under a huge strain.”

He urged fellow councillors to move on and acknowledge the positives which could arise from the development.

He said: “For the university to achieve its aim of becoming a carbon neutral university would be good for the environment, and spending less on energy costs would allow the university to invest in other areas, with knock-on benefits for the local economy.”

Reporter David Russell concluded the council acted in an unreasonable manner, resulting in liability for expenses.

He said: “In this case the council’s decision notice did not set out any reasons for its decision to refuse to vary all but one of the conditions.

“The adequacy of the council’s subsequent appeal submissions does not mitigate this failure.”

Although it has the green light to start site work at Kenly, the university still needs to reach agreement with the Ministry of Defence on mitigating the risk of interference with radar at Leuchars Station before it can build the turbines.

Following the outcome of the appeal a university spokesman said: “We welcome this decision.

“It effectively keeps the door open to the possibility of the university becoming carbon neutral for its energy consumption, while we continue to seek a viable radar mitigation solution for our proposed green energy scheme at Kenly.”

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