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.
The 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!