In 2013 the university was given planning permission to build a windfarm consisting of six wind turbines at Kenly capable of generating 12.3MW of electricity. Fife Council is now being asked to renew planning permission which has been held up due to a dispute between the University of St Andrews and MoD.
A strict condition of planning permission is that construction of wind turbines can only start once agreement has been reached with the Ministry of Defence over a solution to ensure the turbines do not interfere with the radar systems at the former RAF air station at Leuchars.
The university said that despite numerous, repeated and high-level attempts to explore solutions, the MoD has consistently declined to engage and refuses to negotiate to find a way forward. However, the MoD counterclaims that it has been engaging with the university and will do so with any new proposals.
“The university has set a goal to become carbon neutral for our energy use and the award-winning biomass* plant at Eden Campus and Kenly are essential elements in achieving that aim,” said St Andrews Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson.
“The windfarm at Kenly would save 9000 tonnes of carbon per year, enable the university to comply with its duty under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, secure energy pricing into the future freeing up funding for world-class teaching and research and enable St Andrews to become self-sufficient for electrical energy.
“We are fully committed to our plans for Kenly, which have already won approval from Scottish ministers, and will continue to work to put in place the consents necessary to allow building work to go ahead quickly in future, if a radar mitigation solution is found. This project will safeguard local jobs, cut carbon emissions and help protect world-leading research in St Andrews.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “We have been engaging with the University of St Andrews on the proposed Kenly wind farm project over a number of years. The university is required to ensure the wind farm does not interfere with the Air Traffic Control radar at Leuchars Station and we stand ready to engage on any future proposals.”
Contentious from the outset, the windfarm proposal has been opposed by local community councils and the Kenly Landscape Protection Group. In 2016, Fife’s North East Planning Committee refused permission permission for a 15.4 Km underground cable from Kenly to St Andrews following objections that the University had not consulted on the proposal. The University appealed, only for the Government reporter to determine that he had no jurisdiction in the matter.
*See also article on the sustainability of biomass: https://standrewsqv.org.uk/2020/02/is-biomass-as-green-as-we-are-led-to-believe/