Some positive updates from SSfS…yes really!

IMG_1271

oops! A Dersalloch developer went for an unexpected spin in Straiton last week!

Given the recent decision taken by the Scottish Government to dismiss the need for a Public Local Inquiry (PLI) and grant consent to Dersalloch Windfarm, thus overriding the ‘open and transparent’ planning process, the local council, and some 5000 members of the public who objected to it, there has not been much to cheer about in recent weeks.   A sinister precedent has been set which has left the surrounding communities and councils in shock, not just at the way the decision was made and the timing of the announcement, but also as to what this could mean for the other Section 36 windfarms surrounding Straiton which are currently in the planning system (not to mention countless others all over Scotland).  Legal advice is being taken as we speak so hopefully we have not heard the end of this, however we thought in the meantime we could try and cheer our supporters up with some ‘better’ news.

Keirs Hill Windfarm (RES UK) – In addition to a solid objection by South Ayrshire Council, there are confirmed to be 3419 public objections to this proposal.  Last week, East Ayrshire Planning Committee added theirs to the mix.  This ‘should‘ trigger a Public Inquiry, however, who knows how the Scottish Government will choose to handle this given their recent behaviour with Dersalloch.  East Ayrshire have provided a full and detailed review with their reasons for objection, and even hired their own noise and landscape consultants to assist with the decision making process – the report can be found here.  Sadly, developers RES have already been throwing their toys out of the pram about this objection, with the decision having been reported as “blasted by applicants RES UK and Ireland Ltd who claim the development will boost the economy and create local jobs”…“The Council’s decision will create significant additional costs and delays, for all parties, in the delivery of the proposed 17 turbine development which has received no objections from Scottish Natural Heritage, SEPA or Historic Scotland and has significant support within the local community.”   Well RES, we did try to warn you that this was an inappropriate development and the Council are perfectly entitled as statutory consultees to object!   Many developers mistakenly seem to think that because SNH do not formally ‘object’ that a proposal has essentially got the ‘green light’.  This has never been the case, as there are many other considerations that need to be accounted for, and yes RES, that does include impact on communities and breaches of planning policy!

Glenmount windfarm (RWE) is split between 2 planning authorities – South and East Ayrshire.  Given its location, it should come as no surprise that there are a number of objections that have been lodged (statutory and non statutory).  South Ayrshire Planners have recommended objection and East Ayrshire have not lodged theirs yet so watch this space, but again – SSfS are hopeful this should trigger a PLI.  The South Ayrshire Panel report can be found here.  The report also summarises some of the objections received to date which is encouraging:

Save Straiton for Scotland - objection (number of submissions made).             ScotWays - objection to proposed right of way closure during the construction phase. British Horse Society - have concerns of the impact of proposal on off road riding in the area.                                                                                                                            Glasgow Prestwick Airport – objection.                                                            Mountaineering Council of Scotland - objection.                                                        SEPA - objection unless significant modifications can be met.                                                Visit Scotland - significant concerns raised on the impact of the proposed development on tourist’s assets in the area.                                                                                    Ayrshire Rivers Trust - concerns over sediment arising from the site-welcome commitment to proposed water course monitoring programme.                                        Scottish Natural Heritage – objection, considers that the proposal will significantly and adversely affect the integrity of the Merrick Search area for Wild Land.                            Kyle & Carrick Civic Society – objection.                                                                      West of Scotland Archaeology Service – objection

No news yet for the Linfairn addendum (removal of 6 turbines), however, Willowind are another developer that mistakenly believe it is only SNH who have a valid opinion and from their recent ‘exhibition’, it is clear that they do not consider the other objections made by the landscape, planning and noise consultants,  or the 6000 public objections relevant.  So they are going to push ahead with some very superficial changes to try to appease SNH.  We wish them all the best, look forward to responding to the addendum and hope that Mr Atwal is enjoying his sabbatical from his banking day job to try and push this proposal through!

And finally … you may be wondering about the sorry looking Range Rover at the top of this post.  Well not that we are really into the concept of Karma, but last Friday – locals and visitors around Straiton may have seen a distinct ‘blue’ tinge in the air.  The influx to the village (via the completely inappropriate Dalmellington Road) of timber lorries who are felling Keirs Hill forest (apparently due for felling anyway and nothing to do with pre-empting a decision on Keirs Hill windfarm), combined with the rush of Dersalloch surveyors and PMs who have come to rub their hands in glee and survey their riches – even before a decision has been made regarding an appeal, did not prove a good combination.

IMG_1272The driver of this vehicle had a few choice words to say (well shout)  after a timber lorry tried to negotiate the tight turn into the Straiton main street and took this Range Rover for a wee spin in the process!  The Dersalloch PM  eventually left in a rage after initially blaming ‘windfarm protestors’ for his misfortune…oh please… as if we would even contemplate such a thing!

 

 

 

Knockshinnoch; too close to homes

2 Turbines at KnockshinnochAlthough not directly in the Straiton area a proposal to erect 2 turbines at 125.6m high in nearby East Ayrshire has been submitted. Like some of the developments near Straiton the turbines would be alarmingly close to homes, 5 properties are within 750m.

It is clearly visible from A713, a main tourist route into this area and to Straiton. It would be visible from parts of Rankinson and Littlemill but the developer regards this as ‘moderate’ – somehow I doubt the residents would agree with this. Situated on Landscape Character 17a (Foothills with Forest and Opencast Mining) but within 600m of East Ayrshire Lowlands (7c) which the developer acknowledges would suffer significant effects. The East Ayrshire Landscape Capacity study states that these Lowlands would have a High sensitivity to large typology“. Shadow flicker is expected to affect 8 properties. The developer mentions they would remove this effect entirely by ensuring the turbines would not operate when the shadow flicker would occur. This is welcome but why erect turbines so close to properties when they have to be switched off for long periods? Perhaps the developer should have chosen a more appropriate site. To blight so many homes and make no real significant contribution to the Government’s targets on renewable energy seems just plain wrong.
If you wish to object please follow the link to http://scotlandagainstspin.org/Objections/knockshinnoch-wind-farm/
If you wish to find out more, East Ayrshire council has all the documents associated with this proposal (120) on their website http://eplanning.east-ayrshire.gov.uk/online/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=N8343XGF01B00

 

Dersalloch Windfarm approved despite assurances of an Inquiry

The site of Dersalloch

The site of Dersalloch taken from Bennan Hill

Dear supporters,

As many of you will have heard, yesterday afternoon (strangely coinciding with the opening of the Commonwealth Games which naturally the media and press will be focused on for the next few weeks) Dersalloch Windfarm – approx 2km East of Straiton, was approved directly by Scottish energy Minister, Fergus Ewing.  The article regarding this decision can be viewed here.

After a 7 year battle which amassed close to 5000 objections (including objections from the Planning Authority – South Ayrshire Council),  this has come as a particular blow, not only to the community of Straiton who are threatened by 5 developments  all within a few kilometers of the village itself,  but also the East Ayrshire communities of Dalmellington and beyond who have been striving so passionately to protect their programme of regeneration and tourism.

Be assured there will be questions asked and updates to follow – SSfS were repeatedly informed that this application would be going to Public Local Inquiry (PLI), at which point it would be given a full and proper review taking account of post 2005 changes in planning and landscape policy, cumulative impact, and the application itself in terms of access  and location of turbines. It appears however, as can be seen from the Scottish Government decision letter, that there is a convenient ‘clause’ in the Electricity Act (see page 6), essentially meaning that the objections from South Ayrshire Council, did not in this case automatically trigger a PLI. 

In addition to this PLI clause – the 4723 objections do not appear to have any bearing on the decision. It might be pertinent at this point to roll the clock back 18 months to a point where the national press was questioning the continual waiving through of windfarm applications despite 10,000 objections having been recieved directly by Scottish ministers (at that point between 2008 and 2013).  A report in the Herald at the time quoted a representative for the Scottish Government saying  “Scotland has open, inclusive and transparent planning processes which give the right protection to our magnificent landscapes, and which takes the views of local communities into account.”  At SSfS we are struggling to reconcile yesterdays ‘under the carpet’ announcement with this ‘open inclusive and transparent’ planning process.  Surely a PLI would have been the only way forward if the process was all of these things?

Whilst we  gather our thoughts and get our heads together to discuss the next steps, please take some time to read the decision letter and feel free to let us know your thoughts on this issue.  Be assured as soon as we have gathered a bit more info and got some more detail we will let you know.

Hadyard Hill Extension

SSE held exhibitions at the end of April showing their plans for up to 51 turbines at 126.5m high as their extension to their Hadyard Hill wind farm near Barr. In capacity terms the extension is much bigger than the existing wind farm and the map below shows the area being proposed. The orange dots show proposed turbine location and the red dots are homes. Click on the Map to view a larger version. (Map was produced using Bing OS maps)

Hadyard Extension Map

When it was pointed out to the project manager that the turbines were positioned virtually at the top of hills, extremely close to peoples’ homes and within the Intimate Pastoral Valley designation she replied that this was just a rough plan of the proposed development. They plonk turbines all over the area to get as much feedback as possible from statutory consultees such as SNH and SEPA. She cited an example of an application in different area which had been reduced from around 50 to 30 turbines. She also mentioned that no landscape professional had been employed in the initial stages of the Hadyard Hill Extension which begs the question why on earth put up this information? Is it an attempt to worry folk and then cynically remove some turbines which they never intended to construct and then claim “to have listened”? As a responsible developer we would expect that more care and thought would have gone into the design of a wind farm, even in the initial stages and certainly before presenting it to the public.

To see exactly how near the proposed turbines are to peoples’ homes click here.

To read the Scoping Report and download the pdf document (15mb) click here.

As it stands the development would be clearly seen from Straiton and Kirkmichael and be a very dominant feature from Crosshill.

Back in the news: Save Straiton group continue their objection to Linfairn

This weeks Carrick Gazette has highlighted the SSfS on-going campaign to fight the completely inappropriate Linfairn Windfarm.  To view the article please click here.  This is in response to the announcement that Investment Bank led WilloWind Energy will be holding more public exhibitions and submitting an addendum to their initial proposal for 25 turbines, reducing the number to 19.

Responding to Chairman Bill Steven who commented regarding the inappropriateness of the remaining 19 turbines,  the ‘new face’ of Willowind (Suki Atwal) is  already displaying the familiar signs of contempt for this community that we have seen time and time again:

“It is disappointing but entirely predictable that the Chair of the Save Straiton for Scotland campaign group has chosen to criticise our revised proposal prior to our public exhibitions taking place on the 9, 10 and 11 July. It would appear that there is little that Willowind can say or do to engage in a constructive dialogue with this group, who have always maintained a position of absolute opposition. Sadly it is likely this will never change.”

In response to Mr Atwal – SSfS can be clear that the 6000+ objections lodged with the ECDU were not just relating to the 6 turbines which Willowind propose to remove,  but the scheme in its entirety.  The removal of 6 turbines, was only one of many critical comments made by SNH when they responded to the proposal (please click here to view the full response).  But what about the numerous other valid objections that were made in relation to this proposal In addition to those made by SNH?

Planning opinion – Ian Kelly
Landscape assessment – Mark Steele
Landscape assessment – Appendix
Noise report – Dick Bowdler
Supplementary objection submission – SSfS
Visit Straiton – Objection

If WilloWind and its consultants had bothered to read these and actually ‘listen’ to the local community, the politicians,  the planning, landscape and noise consultants, then they would not even be attempting to come back into this village and they would understand why  “…the Chair of the Save Straiton for Scotland campaign group has chosen to criticise our revised proposal…”. 

Please be clear about one thing Mr Atwal – If you would like to win over this community and undo the damage caused by your previous windfarm submission, we can offer some advice – the only revised proposal SSfS and this community will willingly accept is no proposal.

 

Linfairn update: new public exhibitions in July

Suitable for 19 turbines? Ayrshire people don't think so.

Suitable for 19 giant turbines?   Ayrshire people don’t think so.

WilloWind, the developers behind the proposed Linfairn wind farm, plan to drop the six turbines nearest to Straiton (the northern half of their original proposal). However they are still keen on the idea of up to 19 turbines in the southern section – lining one side of the Girvan valley south of Straiton.

There will be a series of public exhibitions regarding the revised plans for Linfairn:

  • Wednesday 9th July at the McCandlish Hall, Straiton: 2pm to 7.30pm
  • Thursday 10th July at Maybole Town Hall: 2pm to 7.30pm
  • Friday 11th July at Dailly Community Centre: 2pm to 7.30pm

Proposing up to 19 turbines (each 2.5 Mw) suggests that the maximum output of the new proposed farm is likely to be below the threshold of a Section 36 application: we would urge that the application be withdrawn from consideration as a Section 36 application and resubmitted to South Ayrshire Council in the normal way.

Bill Steven, chair of Save Straiton for Scotland had the following to say today:

“It is extremely disappointing and worrying that a so-called professional wind farm developer would insist on trying to convince a community for over a year and a half that Linfairn was one wind farm when it was obvious to every other professional body that it was clearly two separate wind farms, and this was a crude attempt to create a section 36 application.

Dropping the Dyke / Knockgardner leg with six turbines obviously had to happen: as Scottish Natural Heritage objected to that part of the proposal within weeks of the application being lodged. The remaining nineteen turbines flaunt South Ayrshire Council guidelines with regards to position, size and scale: and Scottish Natural Heritage make it clear they recommend WilloWind follow SAC guidelines. Doing so would dramatically alter the picture: indeed it would put in question all the remaining nineteen turbines, yet WilloWind continue to ignore SAC guidelines and SNH advice.
Most worrying of all is the fact WilloWind totally ignore local feeling and the people of Ayrshire. Almost 6,000 people objected to Linfairn Wind Farm … the biggest single objection to any wind farm in Scotland … yet WilloWind make no comment and say they are listening. Linfairn Wind Farm remains a totally inappropriate application and Save Straiton for Scotland will continue to object until common sense prevails. The Scottish Government make it plain … it has to be the right application in the right place … and Linfairn is the wrong application in the wrong place.
Mr Atwal, please be in no doubt: your application in Straiton is neither welcome nor is it appropriate, and offers of money are nothing more than a bribe. We would ask you to truly listen to the people of Straiton and Ayrshire and withdraw this application as soon as possible. We look forward to the public meetings in July.”
So please come to the public exhibitions and make your feelings known there! If you are particularly adversely affected by the proposals, you could ask for a meeting with Mr Suki Atwal, the new director of WilloWind Energy Ltd. He asks for people to contact him through his colleague Clarke Heron of Invicta Public Affairs on 0141 212 7222 or clarke.heron@invictapa.co.uk. Click here for the full text of WilloWind’s letter to Linfairn stakeholders.

 

Would you buy a house near a wind farm? Vote today!

A new report confirms what we all knew anecdotally, which is that house prices fall within sight of wind farms.

High Tralorg, near Girvan

High Tralorg, near Girvan

If you would like, you can download the full LSE report here: Gone with the Wind: Valuing the Visual Impacts of Wind Turbines through House Prices by Stephen Gibbons.

And so to today’s key question Would you buy a house near a wind farm? You can cast your vote at the BBC Countryfile website

Hadyard Hill Extension and Exhibitions

As if recent proposals near Loch Doon weren’t bad enough we regret to note that SSE are hoping to extend their wind farm at Hadyard Hill, near Barr by a whopping 51 turbines with a height of 126.5m. These would join the existing 52 turbines making a total of 103 turbines in yet another particularly scenic part of South West Scotland.

They are holding two exhibitions; the first is on Tuesday 29th April, 3pm – 8pm in the Community Centre, Dailly, the second is on Wednesday 30th April, 3pm – 8pm in Barr Community Hall. If you can manage to go along and let SSE know how you feel about their plans to extend the wind farm then please do so.

The extension would be north eastwards, towards Crosshill and Straiton and crosses over the minor road between Straiton/Crosshill and Barr. Click on the maps to see a larger version with more detail.

Microsoft Word - UK1219606_ScopingReport_4.docx

Proposed Site Boundary

Microsoft Word - UK1219606_ScopingReport_4.docx

Proposed Turbine Locations

To read the Scoping Report (5.3mb) click here.

Knockower wind farm, contd.

Just to keep you updated on what the developers have curiously called “Knockower Community Windfarm”, and in case you were wondering why you had never heard of the vibrant community of Knockower in Dumfries and Galloway.

Knockower is a hill. A rather beautiful wild hill, just next to Coran of Portmark. We hope that the proposal doesn’t get any further, but if it does, we look forward to attending community meetings there, as the views will be great, but hope it won’t be too cold.

Knockower, from Loch Doon, photo M. Ferrier

Knockower, from Loch Doon, photo M. Ferrier

Knockower from Loch Doon, photo Dave Hancox

Knockower from Loch Doon, photo Dave Hancox

Knockower from Carsphairn, photo Linda Fairbairn

Knockower from Carsphairn, photo Linda Fairbairn

Below the photos, we have put in the map, just to remind you – Knockower-constraints-mapand yes, the proposed turbines are all over Knockower, and up onto the slopes of Coran of Portmark. The nearest actual communities to Knockower are Carsphairn (3.7km) and Dalmellington (10.5km), who already have plenty of proposed windfarms on their doorsteps, and probably don’t need any more educational visits just at the moment.

You might also like to know that all of the wind farms proposed by this particular renewables company are called “community wind farms” according to their website, but not everybody likes the idea of a private company (making plenty of private profit) calling its wind farms “community wind farms”, when they are not planned, owned or managed by communities at all. The good folk of Davidstow in North Cornwall (also targeted by Community Windpower ltd.) have issued the following disclaimer:

“DAVIDSTOW COMMUNITY WINDFARM” – PLEASE NOTE DAVIDSTOW COMMUNITY WINDFARMS is not a local community project. It is run solely by Community Windpower Ltd, a profit-making business. The ‘project’ has no connection with any group or individual in Davidstow.

See the Davidstow disclaimer here.

Community Windpower ltd. is registered at Godscroft House, Godscroft Lane Frodsham, Warrington, Cheshire, WA6 6XU. It has two directors: Mr Roderick Michael Haydn Wood, and Mrs Diane Ailsa Wood.

One further thing: the turbines proposed on Knockower hill are in the landscape “Character Type 21: Rugged Granite Uplands” according to the Dumfries and Galloway Wind Farm Landscape Capacity Study (p. 155). The report states: “The landscape of the
Rugged Granite Uplands has an overall High sensitivity to larger typologies of wind farm
development. This landscape type is highly visible and well used for recreation. It would have a High visual sensitivity to larger development typologies. The presence of a Regional Scenic Area, a Wildland Search Area and the Galloway Forest Park increases sensitivity to larger typologies to High in terms of landscape values.” It concludes that “There is no scope for larger typologies and the small-medium typology to be sited within this character type without incurring significant impacts on a number of key characteristics.” Well, we couldn’t put it better. You can download the D&G Wind Farm Landscape Capacity Study here.

Goodbye Southwest Scotland?

Windfarms-in-southwest-ScotlandThis map is from the scoping proposals for Knockower Wind farm (see our post earlier today). It shows the wind farms which are currently operational or in various stages of planning or scoping in Southwest Scotland. Click on the map and you will see it in a more detailed PDF format.

The larger of the two circles (the purple one) is a circle of 35km radius from the proposed Knockower Wind farm on Loch Doon. Just within this circle, no fewer than 870 turbines are currently built, approved, or in the planning or scoping process. The list is as follows (courtesy of the Knockower wind farm scoping document):

Wind farms within 35 km of Knockower
Site Turbine height (m) No. Turbines
Installed
Wether Hill 91 14
Windy Standard 100 36
Hare Hill 63.5 20
Hadyard Hill 110 52
Mark Hill 110 28
Arecleoch 135 60
Approved
Sanquhar 130 12
Windy Standard Extension 100 30
Whiteside Hill 121.2 13
Blackcraig 110 23
Tralorg 100 8
Kilgallioch 146.5 96
Application
Spango 145 14
South Kyle 149.5 50
Margree 125 25
Ulzieside 125 12
Sandy Knowe 125 30
Hare Hill Extension 2 96 39
Afton 120 27
Kype Muir 125 & 132 26
Ashmark Hill 116 7
High Cumnock 132 8
Garleffan 135 9
Burnhead 100 8
Dersalloch 115 & 125 23
Sclenteuch/Keirs Hill 149 17
Glenmount 130 19
Assel Valley 110 11
Breaker Hill 86.5 9
Corwar 126 8
Longburn 135 25
Twentyshilling Hill 125 9
Altercannoch 125 10
Penbreck 125 9
Mochrum Fell 126.5 11
Collieston Hill 141.4 18
Lethans 132 – 140 29
Linfairn 126.5 25
Total no. turbines   870

 

Knockower wind farm

Knockower-location-plan Knockower-location-plan-2Knockower Wind Farm (16 turbines, at a huge 145 metres, totalling 48MW) has recently been proposed by Community Windpower Ltd for the eastern shores of Loch Doon. It is in the scoping stage (i.e. they haven’t yet applied for planning permission). If and when they do apply for permission, it will be to Dumfries and Galloway Council in the first instance.

Community Windpower Ltd (CWL) was formed in 2001 and is an independent UK company. They have four operational wind farms; Dalry in North Ayrshire (18 MW), Aikengall in East Lothian (48 MW), Millour Hill (18 MW) (extension to Dalry) and Calder Water in South Lanarkshire (39 MW). They have planning permission for three more, which will increase their portfolio to 286 MW of wind energy projects.

Although the word “community” features very large in their documentation, they are a profit-making renewables company whose proposals for “community benefit” are not radically different from those of any of the other major players in the renewables industry. As yet they have no particular proposals for the community benefits which will accrue from Knockower, other than that they will be “offering educational presentations throughout the design, construction and operational phases of the proposed development. These educational presentations will also be made available to other community groups in the area such as after school clubs, and local adult groups.” So that’s alright then.

The scoping document is available here as a PDF (7Mb): Knockower-windfarm-scoping

 

Corwar wind farm appeal dismissed – and Martin Davie to leave WilloWind

Corwar-site-layout Corwar-location-map
Two pieces of news from WilloWind: first, relief for the residents of Barrhill, as Corwar Wind Farm is finally rejected at appeal. Second,  WilloWind is to close its Edinburgh office, and say farewell to Martin Davie as CEO. Read on for both press releases:

Press Release: Corwar Wind Farm Appeal Dismissed. Willowind Energy Ltd was informed on 19th February 2014 that an appeal against the decision of South Ayrshire Council to refuse planning consent for an 8 turbine scheme for Corwar Wind Farm with a total site capacity of 16.4MW, was dismissed by Michael J P Cunliffe, a Reporter appointed by the Scottish Ministers. The Reporter concluded that the scheme would have significant adverse impacts which would outweigh its benefits, and that it would not accord with the development plan as a whole. He decided that were no material considerations which would in his view justify granting planning permission in the face of that conclusion.
A WilloWind Energy Ltd spokesperson said “We are extremely disappointed at the Reporter’s decision as we believed that we had very strong grounds for appeal. Intensive investigation and analysis is undertaken to identify appropriate sites for all our projects and we still consider this site to be an excellent location for the size of wind farm that we proposed.” An appeal against the refusal of planning permission by South Ayrshire Council on 29th August 2013 was submitted to Scottish Ministers on 27th November 2013.

More details on the reporter’s comments:

 In rejecting the appeal the reporter appointed by the Scottish Government referred to the landscape and visual effects of the turbines including cumulative impacts as well as the effects on residential amenity and the contribution to renewable energy targets. The reporter states: “Corwar would exert a greater influence over the appreciation of the valley landscape as appreciated when travelling east along the A714 since it would close the view to the head of the valley. “It would be intermittently visible between Pinwherry and Barrhill and again between Barrhill and the limit of the landscape character type. “The section of the B7027 south-east of Barrhill also offers a good view of the landscape characteristics of the valley. “I consider that the proposed turbines would be clearly visible from here and would appear out of scale with the characteristic valley features.” The reporter went on to say: “In my opinion the additional effect of the Corwar Turbines over and above that of Mark Hill would be disproportionate to their number.” He added: “I conclude that significant cumulative effects would be experienced within about 12 kilometres of the site.”

Press release: WilloWind Energy announces closure of Edinburgh office and departure of CEO

WilloWind Energy has today announced the closure of its Edinburgh office as part of a wider restructuring that will also see the departure of Martin Davie as CEO. The changes come following an in depth review of WilloWind’s operational structure. The new structure being put in place will ensure the most effective delivery of the organisation’s strategic goals. WilloWind Director Suki Atwal will take over responsibility for the operations in Scotland with immediate effect. Suki was raised and educated in Glasgow and has spent nearly two decades working in energy and infrastructure including renewable energy. Suki has been a Director of WilloWind since its formation in February 2010. Management of existing sites is unaffected by these changes. A spokesperson for WilloWind Energy said: “We would like to thank Martin for his commitment and passion in taking the organisation to where it is today and wish him all the best for the future. We now look forward to the next stage in the company’s development and the delivery of a number of exciting projects across the country.”

Glenauchie turbine: permission refused

Glenauchie-wireframe-photo
Many of you who made representations to South Ayrshire will already know that permission has been refused for a proposed single 70m turbine at Glenauchie.

Reasons for the decision can be found in the following documents: a brief summary in the Decision Notice, and a longer discussion, including consideration of the representations made, in the Regulatory Panel Report. These documents (along with all the representations) are also available  at South Ayrshire’s online planning site.

Dersalloch – thanks for your objections!

The deadline for objections to Dersalloch wind farm has now passed. Despite the short notice, we made our feelings known! We will let you know the details (how many objections – and so on – as soon as we know them).

To give everyone a day off from wind farms, I am posting a picture of the Garden of Eden, possibly the last place where there definitely weren’t any. It seems to me to bear a remarkable resemblance to the upper Girvan valley near Straiton (with added camels).

adam-and-eve-in-the-garden-of-eden

 

Dersalloch Images

Better late than never. It took some time to track down some digital images of the Dersalloch viewpoints. Here are some PDFs of the original “official” views from the Scottish Power Renewables Environmental Assessment (as of 2012), and below, there are some extra jpgs of views which weren’t included but should have been. The view over Loch Doon from the A713 was only supplied by SPR as a wireframe.

Viewpoint 08 Gass 6.17
Viewpoint 08 NE Gass 6.17
Viewpoint 07 Patna 6.16
Viewpoint 03 Craigengillan 6.12
Viewpoint 09 Blairquhan 6.18
Viewpoint 12 Tairlaw Toll 6.21
Viewpont 04 Dalcairney Path 6.13
Viewpoint 02 Loch Doon 6.11

 

Note on the Alitzourie viewpoint: (not used by SPR) – from the Kirkmichael to Straiton Road – where it emerges from trees just above Altizourie and from where you see the whole of the Monument Hill, the upper Girvan valley, Bennan Hill, and the woods and fields of the Blairquhan estate, with Blairquhan castle also visible through the trees.

Note on the Bennan Hill viewpoint: (not used by SPR) The view from Bennan hill has been admired for centuries. In 1845, the minister at Straiton wrote; “Craigengower, or hill of the goats, rises immediately behind the manse, to the height of 1300 feet. Bennan hill, half a mile south of the village, on which a small obelisk was built about fifty years ago is about 1150 feet high. From both these hills, there are fine views of Ayrshire, the Firth of Clyde, Arran, and part of the coast of Ireland.” [from Second Statistical Account of Scotland 1845, The Rev Robert Paton, Minister, Parish of Straiton.]

Note on the wireframe: shows the turbines that would be visible from the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory.

Note on the uncaptioned jpgs taken from deep in the Galloway Forest (the Loch Enoch hills): these are from Jez Turner, who writes : “Have you realised that Big Hill of Glenmount is visible from the sylvan White Lochan of Drighorn, deep in Galloway Forest Park between Curleywee and Millfore?” And so of course, would the turbines of Dersalloch and Glenmount wind farms.

Apologies for the late posting. A lot of work is going on in a very short time! Don’t forget the deadline of the 28th, and feel free to send the link to this page to concerned friends and relatives!

Dersalloch News

The site of Dersalloch
The photo (taken from Bennan Hill) shows the site where SPR plan to put their 23 giant turbines: in the front, the Doonans, behind, Trostan Hill, Big Hill of the Baing, and snow-covered in the distance is Cairnsmore of Carsphairn. This beautiful hill country is on the borders of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, and the turbines will be visible from the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory (not to mention Ayr and Troon!). Don’t let them do it!

The good news is that South Ayrshire is maintaining their objection, so it should go to a Public Inquiry. Make sure your opinion is heard too, before the 28th March. If you haven’t already done so, you can click here to object.

Loch Doon and the Dark Sky Park (no turbines)

All photos are copyright of their respective authors. See the originals and another 250 or so striking images of Loch Doon, Night Skies above the Dark Sky Park, Dalcairney Falls, on Flickriver: click here. Glenmount and Dersalloch wind farms are just two of the wind farms which threaten these landscapes and these night skies.

Several thousand object to Glenmount

We don’t know yet exactly how many, but we think that once again, several thousand people have voiced their concerns about a wind farm sited inappropriately in a beautiful and much valued location. If you made an objection: thank you for your help. We will let you know when we have some definite figures!

In a little while we will also be putting copies of our “official” Save Straiton for Scotland objections up on line.

Meanwhile, the work never stops … Believe it or not, there is now an opportunity to object to Dersalloch wind farm – the deadline is 28th March. Another post will follow very shortly, and please, please, add your voices to object to this blight on the Straiton Hills.

Dersalloch wind farm: object before 28th March

Yes, there is still an opportunity to object to Dersalloch. First proposed in 2005, objected to by South Ayrshire, the plans remain before the Scottish Government: now you have a final (?) opportunity to air your views.

Representations on an “Addendum” have been invited. The addendum concerns the impact of the Dersalloch wind farm on the Dark Sky Park and the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. A lot of the discussion is about whether infra-red lights on the turbines will interfere with astronomical observations (the expert advice seems to be that they probably won’t). HOWEVER, there are still important technical issues to be resolved (will air turbulence cause poor visibility? If that sounds crazy – click on the thumbnail Turbulence-Woan-report-phototo see a photo of what could happen… will the shadow of the turbines occlude the night sky?) and the bigger issue of the effect of Dersalloch wind farm on Dark Sky tourism and indeed tourism in general is also up for discussion: we certainly feel that Dersalloch would be a disaster for both Dark Sky tourism for the Observatory, and for tourism to the Galloway Forest in general.

Representations on the Dark Sky issues will be considered by the Reporter (who then advises Ministers). But, as well as commenting on these specific issues, you can add any comments you wish on the whole Dersalloch proposal – and these will be considered by Scottish Ministers.

We have prepared a “how to object page” – click here to be redirected.

Have a look at what is under threat: not just Straiton and Blairquhan, but the Dark Sky Park, and the landscapes around Loch Doon: just click here or on the thumbnail to see some striking images of just how beautiful and worth-protecting this area is.LochDoonStacked-M-Ferrier

Before you object, by all means have a look at the Non-Technical summary (includes maps) of 2012 and the technical reports which form “Addendum III”. Download them here:

1. Dersalloch Non-technical summary

2. ScottishPower Renewables AEI report

3. Report by Professor Woan

Also…

If you want to see the original press advertisement in the Edinburgh Gazette asking for public representations, click here.

The Scottish Government’s page on Dersalloch has some other relevant documentation.

Just to remind you…

The Dersalloch wind farm would consist of 23 turbines: seven at 115m and sixteen at 125m to blade tip.

The site is Dersalloch Hill, between Straiton and Dalmellington: it would sit on the high ground behind and beyond the Monument – just to the left of the monument as you look at it from Maybole. The wind farm would be parallel to the Straiton-Dalmellington B741, and dominate the whole of that road.

The nearest turbine to Straiton is 2.3km away (measured to the War memorial) and 2.2km (measured to the primary school). Click on the map below to see the detail…
Dersalloch-Straiton-map

Glenmount deadline extended to 10th March

from Craiglee

This beautiful photo shows exactly the area (between lochs Finlas and Doon) which would be covered by turbines if the Glenmount proposal goes ahead. (Click here to see other equally stunning images of this walk up to the summit of Craiglee).

Does the area look empty? It might interest you to know that the developers’ own bird surveys have revealed that the area of the proposed wind farm is used by no fewer that 84 species of birds, of 44 are of conservation concern.  An amazing 40 species (24 of them threatened) actually have breeding territories on the site. Species seen at Glenmount, and protected by law, include Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Peregrine, Goshawk, Hobby, Black Grouse, Golden Plover, Curlew … we can provide the full list if you’d like.

Still want to object? There’s time – the deadline has been extended to 10th March: click here to be re-directed to the objection page.

Keirs Hill and Glenmount Updates

As you may be aware, SSfS received an extension for the Keirs Hill representation (well there was a lot to say about it!). This ensured that there was plenty of time to enlist the help of Landscape consultant Mark Steele, as well as pull our own objection together. These were submitted to the ECDU on Friday (7th Feb), and the documents are now available online for you to view.  We have also included the submission from VisitStraiton, which we hope you’ll agree makes good reading!

Unfortunately Glenmount is in full flow, so no time to dwell  on Keirs Hill.  Developers RWE npower have already been giving us a bit of a headache, and that’s before their 36,000 vehicle journeys get near us!  Both the Community Council and SSfS, following a lot of concern from local residents asked for a public meeting to be held so people could raise their own issues and hear what they had to say.  RWE responded to this by selectively inviting some residents to an ‘appointment only’ discussion on Friday 14th February.  This is far from ideal given most people on the route would have been unaware about the invitation.  If anyone would still like to try to get an appointment, RWE can be contacted on 0845 717700 or emailed Glenmount@npower-renewables.com. 

Failing that, however RWE have now agreed to hold a further drop in session in the McCandlish Hall on Tuesday 18 February between 4pm and 7pm (they really don’t want people to turn up at the same time do they?!).  It is imperative that anybody to has concerns or questions about the proposal to try and make it along to the drop in session and make sure you get all the answers you are looking for.  RWE have provided  a traffic management plan which has some basic information so please have a look prior to going along just to give you a feel for what they are proposing.

With over 36,000 vehicle journeys passing through Kirkmichael and Straiton over a  20 month timeframe, including  thousands of HGV vehicles and abnormal loads with police escorts, You may well be very concerned about delays, parking, vibration damage to properties, emergency access, not to mention the roadworks  that will take place prior to the construction traffic in order to upgrade the route so it can handle these vehicles. How do they propose this traffic will be co-ordinated with Linfairn (40,000 journeys via Crosshill) and Dersallach (a similar number via Kirkmichael)? Whatever your concern, please turn up and make sure your voice is heard and your questions are answered.

Keirs Hill – the missing view

Image

Keis Hill - the missing view

At last RES have provided the missing images from the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment stating they “appear to have been omitted from some copies of the Final Environmental Statement due to an administrative error.”
This is the view from the drive up to Blairquhan, taken in the summer with trees is full leaf and with some white clouds behind the turbines. By doing this some of the turbines are hidden from view and others don’t appear as intrusive as they undoubtedly will be, especially as they will be moving feature.

keirs-wireframe

The wireframe shows that all 17 turbines will be visible including 11 hubs. A startling amount when it is almost 4km away. The view from the drawing room and indeed all the rooms on the north side of this beautiful A listed castle would be significantly adversely affected.

Glenmount – the images

Viewpoint-15-detail_Quite a number of documents (not yet all) are now available on East Ayrshire’s planning website (click here). Here, to keep you busy, are some of the most important: the full Environmental Statement (over 500 pages) and three PDF documents which give all the viewpoints:

If your computer is likely to crash downloading and viewing these large PDFs, then have a look at a selection of the viewpoints below. We have taken screenshots and uploaded some of the key viewpoints into a gallery. We haven’t chosen all the viewpoints: several of those in the Glenmount submission show trees and shrubs, and surprise surprise! – you can’t seen the wind farm from behind a bush! But as you will see below, you can see it from all over Ayrshire and beyond, and you can see clearly that it will destroy some of our most beautiful countryside.

We agree with the East and South Ayrshire Landscape Wind Capacity Studies, which say clearly that planners should “Maintain the rugged scenery and sense of wildness associated with Loch Doon and the Carrick Hills by directing wind farm development away from this landscape and ensuring that development sited in surrounding landscapes avoid significant impact on its setting and experiential qualities.” The same studies also say that there is “no scope for larger development typologies to be sited in this landscape” and that “no turbines over 20 metres should be considered for this landscape.” How clear does the advice have to be?

Glenmount – Its time to object!

View from the proposed Glenmount site looking south towards Derclach and Finlas Lochs

View from the Glenmount site looking south towards Derclach and Finlas Lochs

Just as we were dusting ourselves down, recovering from the horror that was Linfairn Windfarm, Keirs Hill sneaked in with a festive treat for us to digest over Christmas.  The timing didn’t deter our supporters who managed rustle up  another 3000 objections (without having to bribe locals with electricity discounts, or pay people to canvas strangers in the streets of Ayr)!  Now, as expected, Glenmount (RWE Npower) have come in with their Section 36 application, clearly desperate to cash in on the feeding frenzy before policy changes make the process less lucrative for them.

Time is extremely tight for this application, and we only have until 24th February 2014 **STOP PRESS: the DEADLINE IS EXTENDED to 10th March** to submit representations to the ECDU.  SSfS have therefore prepared a how to object page to try to simplify the process for those who wish to make a considered objection.

The planning documents are not available online yet, although they are in the McCandlish Hall in Straiton and should soon be available on the East Ayrshire Council planning website.  STOP PRESS: click here to see the key documents and key images. The non technical summary is available on the RWE website. The summary however shows that very little has actually changed from the original scoping documents (the turbines have reduced from 22 to 19). Some highlights which RWE point out are below and might just give you an indication of how they view the area they intend industrialising.

  • ‘The .. site falls within a..locally designated Sensitive Landscape Character
    Area (SLCA).. [and].. would result in a localised significant impact..’
  • ‘The local area could not be described as a popular tourism location’
  • ‘There are also aspirations for dark sky tourism to be developed in
    the area .. [and] the development of Loch Doon .. although these aspirations
    are so far unfulfilled.’
  • ‘Construction traffic [will travel] through the communities of Kirkmichael and
    Straiton … will last for approximately 24 months, and will peak during months 2 to 5 (93 vehicle movements per day).  A total of 152 abnormal load movements will  be generated over months 15 to 20 in the delivery of large turbine components to site.  [and] will be accompanied by police escorts to warn and control external traffic. Significant driver delay and community effects are forecast during the construction phase if unmitigated.’

    .
    There is plenty more information within these documents, clearly designed to shock locals and tourists alike.  Notable of course is yet another developer making a determined effort to ignore the SNH commissioned  East and South Ayrshire Wind Capacity Studies (2013) which explicitly state (yet again) that the site area  cannot accommodate any large scale turbines.

    If you are as horrified as us by this proposal please  Object Now.  SSfS will prepare a more detailed submission however please, as always, send us any additional comments or concerns you may have and we will ensure they get included.

Over 3,000 said NO to Keirs Hill

Bill Steven, Chair of Save Straiton for Scotland, delivered another devastating blow for the developers circling Straiton and the surrounding villages.

RES UK have received a major rejection for their shocking 149m high turbines at Keirs Hill, over 3,000 objections were delivered to the Energy Consents Unit in Glasgow as Save Straiton for Scotland and our friends at Craigengillan combined our efforts to highlight the ludicrous 149m high turbine application from RES.
Bill Steven said “this is a total rejection from the people of Ayrshire who are horrified by this wind farm application. We have to stop this total destruction of our Ayrshire landscape and developers have to take responsibility and stop submitting such damaging, outrageous, mis-placed applications that totally ignore local communities and Scottish planning guidelines.
At a recent public meeting in Straiton the audience were truly taken aback by the size and scale of the Keirs Hill application. People asked “How on earth can a developer show any concern for individual homes and communities when they think 149m high turbines so close to homes is acceptable?
 Save Straiton for Scotland would echo this. The turbines are too high, too close and too many. We are delighted that over 3,000 people agreed and took the time to object to Keirs Hill wind farm.
Bill added “South Ayrshire Council have also submitted their objection to Keirs Hill and we can only hope that common sense will now prevail. It would be hard to find such an outrageous wind farm application that dominates the skyline, communities and individual homes the way Keirs Hill wind farm does. 149m high turbines are totally unacceptable and we are determined to highlight the shocking impact this application has.”

Keirs Hill – Public Meeting 17th Jan 2014, 7:30pm

meetingNow that the festivities are out the way for another year, SSfS wanted to have an opportunity to get everyone together for a wee glass of wine (or a cup of tea or coffee!) and a catchup to discuss the latest proposal at Keirs Hill.  With less than 2 weeks to go until the objection deadline, this is the last chance to ask any questions, pick up some additional postcards for friends and family, and reflect on the true horror of what is being proposed just over the hill. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible!

Keirs Hill Photomontage Gallery

If, like me, you find the enormous PDF documents which make up the Keirs Hill application slow to download and hard to navigate, you may find it useful to look at a gallery of the photomontages provided by RES below, as slightly more accessible lower resolution jpegs. They are screenshots from the RES PDF documents. You will find all the published viewpoints here.

Two are missing: nos. 13 and 17. Number 13 was intended to be from Auchincruive, but it was found that there was no visibility from there, because of trees, so nothing has been published. Number 17 is from Blairquhan. It is not clear why this viewpoint does not appear in the PDF documents supplied: no fewer than 12 hubs and 17 tips would apparently be visible from the chosen viewpoint in the Blairquhan estate.

You’ll see that not only does the proposed windfarm tower over its immediate environment, completely dominating the village of Patna, for example, but it is also clearly and significantly visible from key viewpoints many miles away: from the summits of Merrick and Cairnsmore of Carsphairn.

If the photomontages interest you, you should go to the original PDFs uploaded on our site, to see them at full resolution, and also to see the wireframes, which in some instances show the turbines to be higher than they appear in the photomontages.

Keirs Hill windfarm – it’s time to object!

keirs hill monument

Taken from the Craigengower Monument, Straiton. The giant (125 ft) pylons which the community tried so hard to prevent in 1993 can be seen clearly, and are dwarfed by these 489 ft monsters.

Dear supporters,  At SSfS we have been busy consolidating some of the issues that are coming out of the Keirs Hill planning documents. We have many in the pipeline, however, to allow our supporters to begin the process of  objecting to this scheme, we have prepared a How to Object page with just a few of these key points which can be referenced. There will be a newsletter getting delivered round the local area soon which will also provide postcards for those who do not have access to a computer.

The deadline for objections is the 24th January 2014.

Despite the messages of reassurance that RES gave, this windfarm is horrific, and yet again, flaunts Scottish Government guidelines and local planning policy. Well our message back is clear: These turbines are TOO HIGH. They can be seen for miles and miles, spanning several counties, and scarring our treasured landscape. There are TOO MANY for this narrow strip of land to accommodate (which is why the 2013 East Ayrshire Landscape Capacity Study  categorically says NO).  Finally they are far TOO CLOSE to many villages and properties and given the numbers and size, will undoubtedly have an overbearing and oppressive effect on the residential amenity of residents in these areas. Please take some time to support our cause, protect our village and surrounding areas from these giant industrial turbines and OBJECT NOW:

http://savestraitonforscotland.com/how-to-object-to-keirs-hill-windfarm/

Sclenteuch met mast … lets put in the past ..

met mastThe red light illuminating from the Sclenteuch meteorological mast sitting threateningly above the village of Straiton is a constant reminder of what is lurking round the corner.  It is to us villagers far more than a tool to gather data and  monitor wind speed – it is a beacon of uncertainty, oppression, and fear.  It’s hardly surprising this feeling emanates around the area, given that the 3rd Section 36 application within a matter of weeks is about to land on our doorsteps. Yet another developer in a couple of thousand pages is about to tell us this location is perfect, the environmental damage will be negligible, and the ‘cost’ to the community could be offset by some ‘community benefit’ or  a pitiful £100 pounds off our rocketing energy bills.

At the RES community meeting earlier in the year, residents of Straiton were ‘assured’ that the Sclenteuch development had moved away, it was now in East Ayrshire, renamed to ‘Keirs Hill’ and was not coming back (they refused to put this in writing however). We since find that the height of the turbines has increased to a staggering 149m, so actually increase the visibility and impact of this windfarm not just to Straiton, but villages and towns all over Ayrshire.  To add salt into the wound of this shocking proposal, RES have applied to South Ayrshire Council for a 2 year extension to the original  Sclenteuch mast which sits 2.5 km away from the Keirs Hill site.  They claim this is to continue to monitor wind speed for the Keirs Hill windfarm, however, part of the Keirs Hill application already includes plans for a met mast on site.  The Sclenteuch mast is in a completely different location, RES have had ample time to apply for a temporary mast in the new location, therefore we find their reasoning laughable. A simple look at the RES website shows how many times this company gets a foot in the door waits until the precedent has been set and then applies for the extension or phase II.

We have an opportunity to make our feelings on this met mast application known.  It is the opinion of SSfS that the planning permission for this mast has expired and therefore it should be removed.  If you are of the same opinion, please register your objection with South Ayrshire Council using the following link:  http://ww6.south-ayrshire.gov.uk:81/bumblebee-web/applicationComments.do?action=showComments&caseNo=13/01409/FUR