The University of St Andrews has been denied permission to lay an underground cable from its wind farm project in Kenly to Largo Road in St Andrews. This new development puts the fate of the costly and time-consuming project in doubt.
The plan, originally approved in 2013, would involve “6×2 megawatt wind turbines on the University Farm at Kenly” and save “19,000 Tonnes of carbon per year,” creating an “indirect investment in Fife.” With a “GDP benefit of £7.1M for Fife and £0.6M to the East Neuk,” it would also facilitate “[j]ob creation during construction and maintenance” and have one million pounds invested in a local community benefit fund.
The University also highlighted that the project would help “achieve Scotland’s objective of having 100% of renewable electricity by 2020” and would allow it to comply with “its duty under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.” It would also give the University the ability to have greater control over its own energy pricing and make it self-sufficient for electrical energy needs.
But the project was met with stiff resistance from locals of Kenly from the start, some of whom objected to the obstruction of the landscape and intrusion upon people’s private lands. Linda Holt, a Conservative councillor for East Neuk and Landward, told The Courier that “[the] project has caused a lot of grief and pain locally, and dropping it now would give the university a chance to build more constructive relationships with communities in the Neuk.”
The Scottish Government recorder who denied the University permission to lay the cable cited their “‘avoidable negligence’ by failing to notify all the landowners whose land the cable would pass through,” reports Fife Today.
The University’s goal in setting up the project was “to be recognised locally and internationally as a world class institution that leads by example, fully integrating sustainable development into all that we do” and to contribute to the general environmental wellness of the area.
“I don’t support it,” stated Rebecca Benson, 18, a student at the University of St Andrews and a resident of Fife county. “I understand them being put up in the Highlands and in areas with a lot of mountains, but Fife isn’t particularly hilly. I like the scenic nature of Fife and wind farms would ruin that.”
Another student at the University, who wishes to stay anonymous, says that the wind farm would be a “giant leap for St Andrews” and hopefully an idea that will set an example to all universities around the UK. On top of this, the student believes that this is a “project that could definitely help integrate locals with the student population, as long as everyone is on board.”
Commenting on the recorder’s decision, the University said that it “remains fully committed to our strategy of reducing our carbon footprint, decreasing our reliance on external energy providers and protecting local jobs.”