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University seeks permission to develop wind farm

A computer generated impression of the proposed wind farm at Kenly.

A computer generated impression of the proposed wind farm at Kenly.

Scotland’s oldest university has unveiled plans to build a 12 megawatt wind farm to protect itself against spiralling energy costs.

The University of St Andrews is seeking planning permission from Fife Council to develop a six turbine wind farm on farmland it owns at Kenly Farm, by Boarhills.

The move for planning approval follows a three-year process of detailed research on-site and discussion and consultation with representatives of local communities in Boarhills, Dunino and Kingsbarns.

The Kenly Wind Farm is a vital component of the University’s strategy to offset the rapidly rising and punitive national costs of energy.

Although St Andrews has reduced and managed its energy consumption in recent years, rising national and international costs of energy have seen its bills triple since 2005 to £5.4 million a year.

“This increase in costs is equivalent to the salaries of up to 120 full-time staff at St Andrews and is a major financial risk for us,” said Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson.

“Doing nothing is not an option. We would prefer to determine our own financial fate, than have it determined for us by the vagaries of international energy markets. Our consumption is on a flat line but we are being charged more and more for it.

“We are encouraged by the Scottish Government’s commitment to renewables and fortunate that we can respond positively to it.”

Long-term monitoring of wind speeds at Kenly shows that it is possible to generate enough electricity to meet the needs of the energy intensive scientific operations of the University situated at the North Haugh and the rest of the institution’s electricity demand.

The renewable energy generated at Kenly, site of an abandoned Second World War airbase, would be equivalent to the average annual consumption of 8,500 typical domestic properties in Fife.

The University examined two potential options for Kenly – a layout of four larger turbines each generating three megawatts and a layout of six smaller turbines each generating approximately two megawatts.

Both options were assessed as part of a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment which has been submitted as part of the planning application. Public feedback persuaded the University to choose option 2 with six, smaller machines.

The EIA also includes data on potential noise, ecology, radar and aviation, construction and traffic impacts as well as an examination of the possible positive and negative effects of the wind farm on archaeology, cultural heritage and economic and tourism aspects.

From the outset of the project over three years ago, the University has made clear its willingness to encourage, support and accommodate direct community benefit from the development, should it proceed.

Discussions are continuing with representatives of local community councils about the possibility of the formation of a set of Community Trusts to manage income from the proposed wind farm.

A survey carried out among attendees at public meetings in Boarhills and Kingsbarns in 2010 reported that 46% of people were in favour of the planned development.

The survey found:

  • 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.

Last week, the University was praised for its commitment to a green agenda and energy saving initiatives. St Andrews emerged as the leading public sector body in the UK in 2010/2011 for the value of projects designed to save energy and cut carbon emissions, according to Salix Finance, an offshoot of the Carbon Trust.

St Andrews has undertaken 111 green projects in total, committing over £1.9 million to a variety of initiatives. Over their lifetime, these schemes will save 7,700 tonnes of CO2. The work carried out by the University was described as an “exemplary achievement” by Salix.

The full planning application and EIA for Kenly has been submitted to Fife Council and will be published on its website at www.fifedirect.gov.uk

The University has arranged a static display of photomontages and associated information about the Kenly planning application at Boarhills Village Hall 14th June 4-6pm and Kingsbarns Memorial hall 15th June 4-6pm.

The full Environmental Impact Assessment will also be available for public inspection in the Bute Building Reference Room, Bute Building, St Andrews from Monday June 6th, 9am to 5 pm

ENDS


Issue by the Press Office

Contact Niall Scott on 01334 462244, email ns30@st-andrews.ac.uk

Ref: Kenly 020611

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