A noise expert claimed that Angus Council made the wrong decision when it refused pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) permission to build two wind turbines at its factory in Montrose.
Louise Beamish, an associate consultant at WSP Acoustics, told a public hearing that the turbines, which would measure more than 100m in height, would meet noise guidelines.
The council denied GSK’s planning application for the controversial proposal on the grounds of noise and visual impact in August. GSK subsequently appealed the decision to the Scottish Government in November.
Giving evidence in front of Government reporter Malcolm Mahony, Miss Beamish said the turbines would meet the recommended noise limits if their use was reduced when wind speeds exceeded nine metres a second.
“The council claimed that GSK failed to demonstrate the turbines can operate at acceptable noise levels and that the development would be contrary to a number of policies,” she said.
“My assessment concluded that the turbines can operate at acceptable noise levels, albeit at reduced levels depending on wind speeds. The council’s statement is incorrect.
“The council claimed there was a lack of data at higher winds of nine metres a second and above. The applicant has offered to cap its use when speeds are above this level.
“In my professional opinion the residents are reasonably protected from turbine noise.”
Miss Beamish defended her firm’s measurement of background noise levels taken at Ferryden, which the council’s expert Dick Bowdler criticised for having too wide a spread of data points.
She said: “Ferryden is considered a mixed residential and industrial setting, which can lead to a greater spread of measured data than rural sites. I believe the noise levels at Ferryden are representative of the noise climate at the location.”
She added: “In my opinion the turbines will be able to operate within acceptable noise limits and the appeal should be allowed.”
In the council assessment, Mr Bowdler removed some noise measurements, judging them to be part of birds’ dawn chorus.
Miss Beamish said this data should not have been removed as the readings were taken in late August and early September, with the dawn chorus predominantly taking place in spring and early summer.
Also at the hearing, the council was denied permission to submit a late document containing a list of sunrise times.
GSK noted that documents were meant to be submitted four weeks before the hearing but had only received this one on Thursday, leaving insufficient time for it to be checked.
A site visit will take place on Tuesday next week, with a draft schedule of locations to be visited being circulated among the public gallery.
Written submissions on the issue of noise will be made to the reporter, with Angus Council given a deadline of May 22 and GSK having until May 27.
The reporter’s decision is expected in late June. The inquiry at the Links Hotel in Montrose continues.