Thursday, 8 December 2011

Assel Valley wind farm # 5

Just when you think it was going quiet in the run-up to Christmas - things start getting noisy again. On November 17 2011, I reported that that Coriolis Energy were looking to amend their layout for the Assel Valley wind farm. In that post, I reported that there appeared to be a difference of opinion as to whether a new planning application was required. Well, that now appears to have been settled. South Ayrshire Council have made it very clear to Coriolis that their amendments 'are substantial and extensive'. Included below is the text of the email sent to Coriolis making South Ayrshire Council's position very clear:

Thanks for your e-mail and discussion on the phone earlier today.

I've had a look at your submitted alterations to the proposals for Assel Valley and note that they would result in the removal of turbines 11, and 13-17 (ie 6 of the 17 originally proposed), the removal of one of the anemometry masts and the reduction of height of the remaining proposed turbines from 126.5 m to 110m (to blade tip). This represents a significant alteration to planning application 11/00654/APPM as submitted.

Paragraph D.7.4 of the SNH Handbook to which you refer in your letter of 9th November states "From a procedural point of view, whether the modifications can be accepted as an amendment, without a new application being made, is a decision for the Competent Authority alone"

The document continues by providing guidance in paragraph D.7.5, stating the key question will be: Whether the modifications are so extensive as to amount to a different project proposal in which case a new application should be made; or Whether the modifications are significant but not extensive in which case a new application is generally not required but the Competent Authority should re-consult and re-notify and re-publicise the proposal; or Whether the modifications are not so significant as to merit re-consulting and re-publicising generally, but may be appropriate for selected consultees to comment or whether no consultees need comment.

As indicated in my first full paragraph, I am in no doubt that the proposed amendments are substantial and extensive. I readily acknowledge that the proposal would still essentially be for a windfarm, but the amended proposal would be at significant variance from the description of proposal submitted on the planning application form, which specified 17 turbines of up to 126.5 metres. South Ayrshire Councils Priority Projects Service Standards advises "where changes to a proposal result in an application that is materially different to the original application, the Planning Authority cannot accept these changes as part of the existing planning application."

Whilst I make no comment on the desirability or otherwise of the proposed reduction in turbine numbers or their heights, I am of the opinion that the proposed alterations are of a magnitude that constitute a different project proposal.

In light of the above, and in accordance with the Service Standard, I offer you the opportunity to withdraw planning application 11/00564/APPM, or ask if you wish the Planning Authority to determine the application as it was originally submitted.

South Ayrshire Council really do have to be applauded for standing up to Coriolis and resisting the attempt to brow-beat them into accepting the proposed changes as part of the original planning application using irrelevant case law. And the response from Coriolis? Well, they appear to have thrown their toys out of the cot and have decided to continue with their original application. In an attempt to try and assuage local opposition, Coriolis have submitted the following document as part of their application in response to the objections that have been raised to their application. Its quite an amusing read - if you read BETWEEN the lines.

Assel Valley is turning out to be a VERY important and 'interesting' application; never, ever a dull moment!