Apr 6 2011 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
RESIDENTS of Plains, Greengairs and Caldercruix attended exhibitions last week to find out more about the new wind farm being proposed for their area.
Potential developers Your Energy held information sessions in each of the three areas to canvass views from locals on their plans to install up to 11 turbines.
Almost 100 locals took the opportunity to quiz senior representatives from the company about the plans and their environmental impact, plus an accompanying community fund involving residents in spending decisions.
Project manager Tom Campbell said: “Many of the people attending said they’re in favour of wind energy and wanted to know where the turbines will be located.
“Some had concerns such as noise or about this particular location, but the application has a long way to go and we’ll be doing studies on all these things in depth and very stringently.
“Many asked about opening up the site with footpaths and bikeways. It was great to speak to people who regularly use the area and hear their ideas on how it can be enhanced.
“This is the beginning of our consultation and it’s really important that we keep getting feedback from residents to help us design the right wind farm for the site.
“People also wanted to know about community benefits, and we want to make sure that local people benefit directly, whether that’s through supporting projects or perhaps reducing electricity bills in the local area.”
Residents attending the sessions were keen to find out details of the latest proposal for an area which has previously been used for opencast mining and landfill and, in Greengairs, will soon host a large incinerator and recycling centre.
Information provided by Your Energy to visitors stated that the turbines would be operational for 25 years and similar in scale to those at the neighbouring consented but unbuilt wind farm to be run by Infinis at Greengairs.
Airdrie’s site has been chosen for the potential new project due to meeting the criteria of wind speed, distance from residences, grid connection, access roads and land availability.
Greengairs woman Ann Coleman attended a presentation on the plans, and said: “My main question is that if they’re building on peat land, that can release CO2... so will the wind farm more than compensate for that?
“The other issue is that the wind farm must be in proportion to the area. The number acceptable to the community is enough.
“However, I’d rather have a wind farm any day than an incinerator, and we’re looking for a community benefit from it.”
Plains resident Anne Marshall was among those attending the roadshow at the village’s primary school campus.
She said: “I wanted to find out about the community benefits scheme, to find out what it can bring to the area and see how much power will be generated.
“We’ve had everything in this area over the years, but I’m broadly in favour of the project. There are pros and cons but the most important thing is to know what the will of the local people is.”
Your Energy expect the current consultation to be year two of a potential six-year process, to be followed by the production of an environmental statement, planning application and council decision, construction and operation.
The company is still keen to garner local opinion, through a website questionnaire at www.greengairseastwindfarm.co.uk or on 0800 707 6859.