The University of St Andrews is striving to achieve planning permission to build six wind turbines on Kenly Farm near Boarhills.
The 12MW wind farm would meet the University’s electricity demand, making it the first university in the United Kingdom to generate its own power.
If the planning is approved the University hopes to cut its current energy bill of £5.4 million per year.
The wind farm would also reduce the University’s carbon footprint by 18,000 tonnes, enhancing its strong reputation for being environmentally conscious. Last year the University supported 111 Green projects costing 1.9 million pounds.
The St Andrews University Student Representative Council (SRC) voted unanimously to support the project.
SRC President Patrick O’Hare said, “We commend the University’s commitment to renewable energy and believe that it is engaging positively with student desire for sustainable energy solutions as well as promoting itself as a leader in the Higher Education sector on sustainable development.”
Cristina Boulineaux, the Student Association’s Environment and Ethics Officer, described the plans as “an example of great forward thinking and a responsible effort to tackle climate change and spiralling energy costs”.
However, the University’s plans have been challenged by the ‘Kenly Landscape Protection Group’ (KPLG), formed by disgruntled residents from Boarhills, Dunino and Kingsbarns. “Turbines of this scale have a massive visual impact over a huge area on residents and visitors alike and the impact on Fife’s biggest industry – tourism – cannot be ignored,” John Goodwin, a spokesman for KLPG, told The Courier.
“Golf brings thousands to Fife. The turbines could be seen over St Andrews from the Links and from other courses in the area, completely altering the amenity and the visitor experience,” he continued.
The farmland for the proposed site has passed a full Environmental Impact Assessment but the Ministry of Defence has objected to the wind turbines as they would interfere with the radar system over RAF Leuchars. The University is working with the MOD to find a solution and it may help that the complaint was made before RAF Leuchars prepared to close.
The University is also keen to interact with the community over the Kenly Wind Farm and has recruited Frost-Free, a group to aid discussions within the area. Roddy Yarr, the University’s Environment and Energy Manager, said, “we need the community engaging with us in a positive way”.
Students of St Andrews were largely supportive of the proposal. Second year Claire Gourlay said, “I support the wind turbines because I think it’s a great opportunity for the University to contribute to the movement towards the future of more sustainable energy.”
However, John Trevor, a sustainable development student, stated that, “although I appreciate the environmental benefits of the wind farm, I am concerned that the turbines will ruin the beauty of the countryside.”
Supporters of the project state that the community could benefit from Kenly Wind Farm as the Government financially awards renewable energy producers. The money would be distributed to the community via trusts following guidance provided by the Scottish Government.