Overcoming the challenges to obtain planning consent for new wind turbines has not been easy in the past few years. Many developers find it difficult to resource every element of the planning process. To compound the problem, the council planning departments also face resource issues due to recent government cuts.
Despite this, Ayrshire-based VG Consulting has successfully managed planning approval for two new wind-farm projects get off the ground for agri-farms in Fife and Ayrshire.
VG Consulting has assisted High Glenmuir Farm in Cumnock to gain planning permission for a new EWT54 wind turbine with a 62m tip-height.
The site adjoins a coal extraction works which is scheduled to close in 2018. VG Consulting provided all planning and environmental works, including on-site assessments for shadow flicker and impact to private water supplies.
Craig Bosworth, Senior Environmental Planning Consultant, VG Consulting, explained: “The biggest challenge was the landscape and visual impact, which had to carefully consider the cumulative impact of the mining and renewable energy projects.
“We worked closely with the land owner and authorities to reach approval and a successful outcome. Planning and environmental work for build projects are never without their challenges and we had to deal with the case officer at the council changing twice during the process, although our early intervention with both officers provided a quick, seamless and open communication process, that satisfied any concerns.”
The council granted the project unanimous consent as there were no significant planning issues or policy contraventions.
The company’s associated VG Energy will provide project management and deliver the wind turbine installation, grid connection and support for the project.
As a CARES project, the local community will also benefit at a rate of £10,000 per annum per megawatt of rated output.
Steven Rawding, Managing Director, VG Energy, said: “The income from the turbine will be used to secure the farm’s future and improve the wellbeing of the livestock with an improved cow shed and new fencing. “This is particularly welcome as government farm payments are under review following Brexit, and it is a positive example of sustainable land diversification.”
VG Consulting and VG Energy delivered a similarly successful project outcome at Fingask Farm, nr Cupar, Fife, for a local farmer specialising in arable and livestock farming with Pedigree Shorthorn and Highland Cattle.
The agri-business need to install a single 40.5m tip Norvento NED100 turbine. VG Consulting was chosen as the partner to oversee all planning and environmental work, with VG Energy once again providing solutions for the technology, installation and after care.
Bethan Lewis, Senior Environmental Consultant, VG Consulting, explained: “From early in-depth discussions with the council, we knew this was a viable site that would provide a sound investment for the land owner, and with proper processes it could meet with planning approval.”
Dave Anderson, Managing Director, VG Consulting, concluded: “The renewable energy industry has had challenges lately, similar to the agricultural sector.
“Subsidy cuts and uncertainty have been worries, although we believe that understanding of each other’s sectors is bringing farming industries and renewable energy developers closer again.”