PLANS for a £36 million windfarm in the hills behind Greenock have been blown off course after councillors threw them out.
Hot air spread through the council chambers yesterday as councillors spent an hour debating 2020 Renewables’ plans to build eight 110-metre (360ft) tall turbines on land to the north and east of Corlic Hill, between Greenock and Port Glasgow.
After airing arguments both for and against the major proposals, councillors voted 14-3 to refuse the application in front of a packed public gallery in the town’s municipal buildings.
Concern over the development’s possible impact on air traffic radar was one of the key factors behind the decision.
But today, Alasdair MacLeod, development manager at 2020, said the company may launch an appeal against the decision with the Scottish Government.
Mr MacLeod said: “Obviously we are extremely disappointed — particularly given all the counter arguments we made on the aviation issue.
“This is a major opportunity for Inverclyde in terms of economic development in an area that does not get many opportunities.
“We are going to consider our next steps and will consider appealing to the Scottish Government.” Ahead of the meeting, planning officials had recommended that the proposal should be refused on seven key areas, including the potential threat to aviation safety plus the ‘adverse’ impact it would have on the landscape.
The planning board also recently voted against the application before referring it to the full council for a final judgement.
Councillor Chris McEleny, who put forward a motion for the plan to be approved with the support of SNP colleague Math Campbell-Sturgess, said he respected the views of the objectors but strongly felt that the scheme should be approved because of the many benefits it would offer the area.
He said: “It has been a good debate which is clearly reflected in the difference of opinion in Inverclyde.
“You just need to look at the number of members of the public who have turned up for the debate.
“I think there are many great aspects to come out of this project — it would be good for jobs and I believe the renewable sector will be key to the sustainability of the shipbuilding industry.” However, Labour’s Jim Clocherty moved for the plan to be refused, based on Glasgow Airport’s objection regarding air safety fears.
Cllr Clocherty said: “Council officers have made a number of recommendations on why the application should be refused but I think the key objection is from Glasgow Airport.
“We can’t do anything to put the residents of Inverclyde in danger.” Councillors Vaughan Jones and Ciano Rebecchi also spoke out against the plans.
Mr Rebecchi said: “I do have a problem with windfarms being paid a lot of money to produce electricity for the people who need it most.
“I also feel that there are more suitable places to put windfarms.”