The University of St Andrews has revealed that its proposals for a six-turbine wind cluster at Kenly are vital to its future and its ability to protect the jobs of staff at the university and further afield in Fife.
Speaking before a meeting at which Fife Council will finally consider the Kenly application after months of dithering by local authority planning officers, the University said that Kenly is an integral part of its strategic response to the threat of constantly spiralling external energy costs.
“Rising external energy costs mean that our energy bills have increased five-fold in recent years – from less than £1 million a year to over £5 million a year. It is not that we are using more – we simply have to pay more for the same amount of electricity. There are many families who will be familiar with that predicament,” said a spokesman.
“The extra funds we have had to find to pay our energy bills over the last few years would have allowed us to employ an additional 50 full-time staff.
“If prices continue to rise as they have done in the recent past, it will cost the University the ability to fund 10 full-time posts every year.
“These are not idle figures – we are talking about real jobs and real people. Unless we can take control of our own energy needs, jobs will be under threat, along with our ability to continue to be a key economic driver for Fife and Scotland.
“At present we generate over £300 million for the economy and support over 9000 jobs in St Andrews, elsewhere in Fife and further afield. If we are prevented from implementing our strategy to become self-sustaining in energy, those numbers can only dwindle.”
The spokesman firmly dismissed claims by the Kenly Landscape Protection Group that the University “stands to make £96 million from the windfarm.” The KLPG had also publicly asked what “was in it for Fifers” from the Kenly development.
“This claim is regrettably fantasy with no basis in fact. We have said repeatedly from the very beginning that the power we generate at Kenly will be used by us in St Andrews to support world-leading research in our science and medical facilities on the North Haugh. This is not a profit-making venture and we have been crystal clear about this from outset.
“What’s in it for Fifers? It could not be clearer – new jobs from the development itself, the protection of existing employment and a much more sustainable means of generating and using clean energy locally. Perhaps local jobs don’t matter to the KLPG?
“The KLPG is of course entitled to its views and we respect its position, but it does not represent the majority opinion in these communities and it is a great pity that it has so often sought to misrepresent the facts.
The spokesman said that the University’s own surveys of local opinion at community meetings in Kingsbarns and Boarhills had indicated a much more considered view of wind and renewable technologies. The surveys were carried out at public meetings where it might reasonably have been expected that many people would have attended because they were concerned or opposed to the Kenly plans.
They revealed that:
- Over 46% of people were either supportive or strongly supportive of the planned wind farm.
- 48% thought that Kenly was an acceptable location for a wind farm.
- Approximately 36% were unsupportive or strongly unsupportive.
- Approximately 12% were neither supportive nor resistant.
- 60% believed a community benefit scheme was a good idea.
- 86% were in favour of Scotland’s increasing use of renewable energy technologies.
“We remain fully committed to our plans for Kenly, to a community benefit scheme and to the process of appeal to ensure a fair hearing.
“Fife Council officers have repeatedly failed to put forward our application for a clean, renewable energy solution which could be a model for others to follow.
“We also have great misgivings over the way the application has been handled and that councillors have been given misleading and inaccurate information about viewpoints and sightlines.
“It is important to note there are no objections from statutory consultees to this development.”
Issued by the University of St Andrews
Contact : Niall Scott, Director of Communication, tel 01334 462244, mobile 07711223062