Some positive updates from SSfS…yes really!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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 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:

https://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

Keirs Hill Planning Submission – now available to view

troon

The planning documentation for Keirs Hill windfarm is now available online:

https://savestraitonforscotland.com/keirs-hill-planning-submission/

To truly appreciate the size and scale of the Keirs Hill Windfarm, click on the photomontage above.  Believe it or not, this viewpoint is Troon Harbour, some 25km away from the proposed site!  Now imagine how these will appear from within the local and idyllic conservation settings of Straiton, or Kirkmichael to name but a few. Perhaps we are considered ‘lucky’ in Straiton only being 3.5 km away from these truly giant structures, but spare a thought for our neighbours over the hill in Patna who staggeringly are just over 1km away.

RES UK have been very cunning in siting the turbines just over the boundary in East Ayrshire. South Ayrshire Council (amongst others) raised concerns following the initial scoping phase regarding the cumulative effects of various proposed wind farm developments on the surrounding area, including the adjacent South Ayrshire Scenic Area, and the conservation villages at Straiton and Kirkmichael.  Having now hopped over the border, South Ayrshire Council  are no longer a statutory consultee, despite the huge impact (as demonstrated by the RES photomontages) which has been compounded by RES greedily increasing the height of the turbines to a whopping 149 metres to blade tip – the highest turbines to be found in any onshore windfarm in the UK.

Despite the backdrop to the conservation village being covered in giant turbines, Straiton is now considered to have ‘negligible’ impact. This is surprising, given it qualifies for the RES local energy discount scheme, a well documented bribe designed to pacify local residents by essentially offering them back some of the subsidy they are already paying via their sky rocketing energy bills.  If RES felt that there was truly no impact, then why the need to ask local residents to jump on this subsidy merry-go-round?

At SSfS we are preparing a ‘how to object’ page to make it easier for people to make a considered objection, in the meantime we would ask that people have a look at the planning submission, and as usual keep us posted with your thoughts and comments so we can include these if necessary with our own objections.

Keirs Hill Planning Submission

Dear Supporters,

Just in time for Christmas – RES UK have prepared a little festive treat for you to digest with your turkey and Christmas Pudding this year!  The Keirs Hill windfarm application has now been submitted to the Energy Consents Unit and as you can see from the pictures it may take a bit of swallowing.

keirs hill monument

Keirs Hill Windfarm as seen from Craigengower Monument

RES have been careful and measured in their activities following responses to the initial scoping report which was produced in 2011.  They have been communicating regularly with SSfS and we have all been aware for some time that the initial plans for 33 turbines  with a height to tip of 125 m spanning South and East Ayrshire Council, was reduced to 17 turbines but with an increased maximum tip height of 149 m, and ‘conveniently’ now just residing within the East Ayrshire Council boundary.

Unfortunately the height, number and proximity of these turbines (the tallest to be found in any onshore windfarm in the UK), paint a very bleak picture for our village as they are only some 3 km away, yet brutally dominate the picturesque setting which we are fighting so hard to protect. Focusing mainly on East Ayrshire, the Environmental Statement gives very little consideration to the village of Straiton and surrounding areas, its unique unspoilt setting, and the thousands of tourists who come here every year.

Keirs Hill no writing

Keirs Hill Windfarm from the Dyke Road, just outside of Straiton

SSfS however are planning to respond to this application with the same message that we have given to the last three applications that have landed on our doorstep.  This is NOT an appropriate setting for any windfarm, yet alone one of this size and scale.  We hope our supporters will again join us in echoing this message.  You should all be familiar with the routine; the planning documentation will be provided for you to look at, a ‘how to object’ page will be prepared and we will provide postcards and templates for people to fill in.  We have until the 24th January 2014 to respond to this application, so please make sure if you are visiting, or have family and friends with you over the holiday period that they also have the opportunity to make a considered objection to this proposal.

In the meantime, please keep an eye out for further posts with more details on the planning submission itself and how to object.

RES UK & Ireland Ltd – Keirs Hill update

Beady eyed supporters may have noticed that RES UK & Ireland Ltd posted details of their planning application  for Keirs Hill Windfarm (formally known as Sclenteuch) in last weeks Ayrshire post.  The development project manager contacted SSfS on Thursday to say there had been a last minute delay, but had not had time to withdraw the advert.  He provided the following note to post on this website:

“Please note, the application for the Keirs Hill Wind Farm has not yet been submitted and the Environmental Statement is not available for viewing. The advert in Ayrshire Post (dated Friday 22nd) was placed in error.

SSfS do not have details of new dates yet but will provide them as soon as they are available.

Linfairn update – time is up!

photo

SSfS Chairman, Bill Steven spreading the SSfS message at the ECDU offices!

Well, the last few days of the Linfairn campaign saw an immense push and those final objections literally came flooding in!   We don’t have the official count, but there are believed to be over 3000 individual objections that made it to the Energy Consents Unit by Monday 11th November!  A huge thank you to everybody who took the time to make their feelings known – for a community the size of Straiton to see such support has provided a fantastic boost to this campaign and has really impressed politicians, fellow campaigners, and the local media.

Some of the committee went up to Glasgow on Monday to personally hand over thousands of objections, along with professional  material prepared by our Noise, Landscape and Planning experts, as well as supplementary objection material prepared by SSfS.  We have put those documents online now so you can see everything in black and white.  Have a good read, it is our opinion that these documents speak for themselves in terms of where this application should be heading…

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

There will be a bit of a wait now as all the statutory consultees have to prepare their own responses to the application, but we will keep feeding back information as it becomes available. This is only the beginning, there is still a big hill to climb, but we’ve certainly made a cracking start  thanks to all your fantastic support.

Linfairn objections – time is running out!

time-running-away

We’re running out of time … Object Now to Linfairn Windfarm!

Well this has been an excellent campaign so far!  Our supporters have really pulled out the stops and objections have been, and are still flooding in from far and wide. We have also received the reports prepared by our planning, noise and landscape experts.  Unlike the WilloWind submission, these reports are accurate, detailed, and extremely encouraging!

However – we only have 3 days left so please use them wisely.  If you haven’t already, make sure all those friends, family, neighbours, or workmates who have expressed concern about our plight have an opportunity to have their say..

  • Those people further afield can sign the template letter and submit it directly.
  • More postcards can still be obtained from The Buck or printed online.
  • More details on how to object can be found here.
  • If you have any signed forms or letters to return, please hand them into The Buck before Monday 11th November.

Don’t underestimate how crucial these last few days are – be assured we have the arguments – but we need to make sure the numbers reflect the strength of feeling against this Windfarm.  Lets pull together for this last stretch and kick this ridiculous planning application straight back to those greedy investors in London and Switzerland and show them we mean business!

Reminder – dates for the diary!

diary

Just in case you have not seen the posters, or received the email, there are a couple of dates coming up to remind you about.

Sunday 27th October – 2:30 pm; Afternoon Tea in the McCandlish Hall, Straiton.

Put down your reading glasses, and pens and come along for a cup of tea and a bite to eat.  Find out how the Linfairn campaign is progressing and what needs to be done for the remaining 2 weeks. Raise any questions, concerns, and maybe even have a bit of a chuckle at some of the ‘howlers’ that have cropped up in the Planning Documents so far!

Tuesday 29th October – 7:30 pm; Crosshill Information Evening, Crosshill Community Centre.

A number of concerns have been raised from our neighbours in Crosshill, particularly with regard to access routes and traffic.  This session is an opportunity to bring people in Crosshill (and anyone else who would like to come) up to date with the proposal and the objection process so they too can make their feelings known.

SSfS look forward to seeing you there!

It’s time to put pen to paper!

sayno

©Robert Thompson
Click to object to Linfairn Windfarm

Well folks, you may well now have digested some of the hair-raising Linfairn Windfarm planning documentation,  seen the recent articles in the local papers, posed for the obligatory ‘horrified residents’ photo call, and received the SSfS newsletter.  It’s been a busy week!

Despite developers having years to prepare their documents, the good old public only have a 28 day window to respond.  In our case, we have until the 11th November 2013.  To make it as easy as possible for people to make their feelings known on this proposal we have prepared a How To Object page for you.

The good news, is that Investment Bank led, Willowind (who perhaps opted for the ‘budget’ package from their energy consultants SgurrEnergy..?), have made the initial stages of the objection process very easy for us!  As well as being  littered with errors, omissions, contradiction, and arrogant assumption, they have admitted time and again how many  guidelines and planning policies they contravene, and how ‘significantly adverse‘ this proposal is particularly within 10 km of the site (of course, it’s all for the greater good so they also admit they don’t really care).  Here is a tiny taster of some of the gems in there:

  • Within 35km of the windfarm, less than 10% of the ‘receptors’ considered (residents, tourists and passers through)  would experience ‘no impact’ from this proposal, with many of them experiencing ‘significant [adverse] impact’.
  • The proposed access route (predicted to carry an additional 40,000 vehicles throughout construction) comes within metres of the conservation village of Straiton, crosses several well used local footpaths, and cycle routes, and ploughs through a field which is also home to one of the local fishing club’s most popular Salmon beats. If anyone is in any doubt as to the size of some of these vehicles you can have a look at this clip of a lorry carrying  one turbine blade being transported in Skye.
  • This traffic will also be coming through Maybole, cutting off at Kirkland Street, which houses 2 primary schools and already has recognised traffic issues. The route continues through Crosshill paying no heed to the National Cycle Network (Route 7). Funnily enough, there has been no consultation with the residents of Straiton, Crosshill, or Maybole who are to accommodate the impact created by the additional  40,000 vehicles expected to pass through during construction.
  • Of 20 photomontages, only 4 are within 5 km of the site, 3 of which are side-on views and appear to be carefully chosen for their ‘screening’ qualities. There is not one honest photo representation provided for a frontal view of the project from anywhere along the valley and widely used local core paths.
  • As a resident within 5km you only considered to be adversely impacted if you have a window facing either of the 2 sites. A full view of some or all turbines from your garden or outside your house does not count.  If you would like to see if you are within the ‘significantly’ impacted category you can check the LVIA (p47). If you think you may have been missed, then let us know!

These are just some general issues, there are in truth many more.  Several people have raised points with us and along with some of our own we have put them together with some information on how to object. We only have one shot at this, so please make sure your voice is heard!

Roll up for a photo call tomorrow – Sat 5th October!

sayno

Cartoon by Robert Thompson

If any of our local supporters can come at short notice, it would be great to have as many of you as possible join us at the Buck, in Straiton, tomorrow (Sat 5th October) at 12:30pm for a photo with the Ayr Advertiser and Carrick Herald who are running a story on our campaign next week.   SSfS has already had some press attention from the Ayrshire Post  this week, after  Bill Steven told it like it is, in response to Willowind lodging their Section 36 planning application for Linfairn Windfarm.  .. ‘Their community engagement has been pathetic, with absolutely no contact made with the many people who will be directly impacted by this windfarm…You can read the full article here.

Linfairn Windfarm: What’s new and what’s next?

Straiton residents (or ‘receptors’ as we are known, now we are in the planning system)  should have received their leaflet yesterday from Willowind – telling us everything that we expected them to.  That they were submitting their vastly scaled back plans to the Scottish Government on Friday (27th September), and of course how busy they have been working so so closely with the community over the last 8 months…

So what’s new?

An initial glance at the planning submission does not show any major changes to the 25 turbines that were in the initial  scoping report.   There is a new mist free version of the below photomontage taken from the Craigengower Monument, with no trees or hills in the way to detract from the true impact of both of the Linfairn sites.    Thousands of tourists a year driving through the upper Girvan Valley into the Galloway Forest Park and beyond will now surely be pleasantly distracted from that long boring journey as they gaze at the 126.5m structures almost toppling over the Inner Genoch Hill…

linfairn new no writing

The Westerly Linfairn site (on the Dyke / Knockgardner side of the hill) looks equally tragic. If you happen to be standing on top of the Craigengower Hill looking West,  you may soon be able to marvel at how the giant metal structures in the foreground draw your eye away from that ugly rock on the horizon that we have come to know as Ailsa Craig..

Linfairn west View

What’s next

To allow our supporters to make an informed decision about the Linfairn Windfarm, we have uploaded  all the documentation to the SSfS website for you.  you can find this here.

We are also preparing a ‘how to object’ page with some key topics and templates which you should get details of later this week.  There will also be a leaflet delivered locally, explaining the process, key dates and next steps.   There is no need to panic – we have until the 8th November, our team of experts already have the documentation,  and there are already several pages of objection points written based on the small amount of information we have looked at so far – so don’t worry – there will be plenty to go around!

In all, our applicants have not failed to disappoint in the tone and quality of their submission, and as such we are going to be busy articulating all the issues we have found to date.  Please in the meantime be patient, but be ready to act when the time comes!  If you are reading through the documents and find any errors or inconsistencies please do let us know and we will add them to the list!

Coming soon to a beautiful river valley near you …

Well folks, at last, our investment bank led developers, Willowind, have finally confirmed through the Carrick Gazette that they will be submitting their Linfairn Windfarm planning documents to the Scottish Government, Energy Consents Unit this Friday (27th September). The full article can be viewed here.

It has been a busy 8 months for them, sorting out their ‘single site’ access route, and liaising closely with the local community in order to revise the plans (which still appear to contain the 25 turbines cited in their initial scoping documents). Martin Davie from the  Willowind project team commented on how it is ‘…especially pleasing to have had such active involvement from local people in getting the plans to the application stage – we’ve gone to great lengths to respond to the issues raised with us about this development, and have included a number of measures in our application which we believe fully address them.’  At SSfS we very much look forward to seeing the revised plans and preparing our responses to these.

In the meantime, please keep an eye out for further posts regarding next steps. As per the presentation last week, we will be preparing letters and templates to help people with their objections. The final objection date is the 11th November 2013.  Planning application documents will be available for public viewing at South Ayrshire Council planning office and Maybole Library.

Please also feel free to leave a comment on this post if you have been party to any of the mystery communications with Willowind that have addressed your concerns, and that you would like us to consider when preparing our own submissions.

Yet again we’re blown away by your support!

Another  great turnout on Wednesday night for the Linfairn windfarm information evening.  A packed hall with an extremely positive and energetic presentation led by our Chairman, Bill Steven!  A few people let us know they would not be able to make it along, so we have put a copy of the presentation online.  to access this and remind yourself how far we have come please click here.

Most people at the meeting were able to sign an objection letter for the massive South Kyle Windfarm near Dalmellington.  Anyone who didn’t get a chance can now object online (it’s really simple – you only need to complete your name and address in order to do this).  It would be great to show support for our neighbours over the hill who, like us are getting swamped with applications.

Finally, following some discussion on the night, we have posted the SNH / South Ayrshire Council  Landscape Wind Capacity Study.  This is a key  document, which couldn’t have come at a better time for us so it is well worth taking a look as it will certainly form one part of our upcoming objection. To help you find the relevant section, Linfairm windfarm is proposed on the following landscape types:

CHARACTER TYPE 13: INTIMATE PASTORAL VALLEYS:  Within the Water of Girvan Valley, ‘the assessment found no scope for the large and medium typologies (turbines>50m) to be accommodated’

CHARACTER TYPE 17C: FOOTHILLS WITH FOREST AND WIND FARM: ‘There is very limited scope for the large typology (turbines >70m) to be accommodated within this landscape.  Turbines should be well set back from the more sensitive outer edge of these foothills to avoid significant impact on the ‘landmark’ hills’ (eg Genoch inner hill)  ‘…which form highly visible containing edges to the smaller-scale settled Stinchar and Girvan Water valleys’.

Thanks again for all your support! As always, let us know if you have any questions, and keep looking out for further information and dates regarding the Linfairn windfarm application.

Are you ready for more windfarms? Radio Scotland: Fri 13th Sept, 8:50am

kayeTune in to Radio Scotland tomorrow morning for an interesting debate.   Kaye Adams asks   ‘if you are ready for more wind farms’.  This is in response to the recently published  Audit Scotland report which suggests Renewable power “needs to double” to meet the 2020 targets.  She will be joined by the Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.  Scotland against Spin Chairman Graham Lang is also on call as is Scottish Tory Energy spokesman Murdo Fraser.

Linfairn Windfarm – Information Meeting: Wednesday 11th September

linfairn

This is the developer’s own shocking Photomontage taken from the Monument looking towards one section of the Linfairn Windfarm.

Dear Supporter,

You may have been wondering about the progress of Linfairn Windfarm given that considerable time has passed since the public exhibition was held back in January.  At that point we were told final plans would be submitted around March 2013.

The SSfS committee have been trying to contact the developers (Willowind) to pin down more detail regarding progress and timescales.   Last week, and thanks to Chic Brodie MSP, who has been liaising closely with SSfS, a meeting was held with Willowind. Our Chairman Bill Steven was allowed to attend with one other committee member.

Below are the key dates which came out of the meeting. These are subject to change however, we wanted to share with you all as soon as possible and prepare everyone for the next steps.

Friday 6th September 2013

As this is a Section 36 (over 50 MW) application, Willowind plan to submit their application to the Energy Consents Unit part of the Scottish Government.

Willowind also plan to give a full copy of their application documents to South Ayrshire Council, SSfS, and Maybole Library.

Saturday 7th September / Sunday 8th September 2013

Willowind to arrange for hand delivered leaflets to all local addresses (and email addresses) outlining the progress they have made over the last few months through ‘listening’ to local concerns and updating their plans accordingly ready for the next steps. Unlike other developers in the area, Willowind do not intend to hold a further public meeting to discuss any changes. However it is understood the 25 turbines still remain.

Tuesday 10th September / Wednesday 11th September

1st round of adverts will be submitted to the Glasgow Herald and Edinburgh Gazette / Ayrshire Post.

Tuesday 17th September / Wednesday 18th September

2nd round of adverts will be submitted to the Edinburgh Gazette / Ayrshire Post.

Monday 21st October

Last date for public objections.

Monday 20th January 2014

Final date for South Ayrshire Council response – note it is very likely this will be delayed.

Next Steps

There is going to be a lot of activity of the next few weeks, and we are all going to have to part to play in this. SSfS cannot do this without your support, so are holding a public meeting on Wednesday 11th September at 7:30 pm in the McCandlish Hall, Straiton.  SSfS will take you through the plans for the coming weeks and give you an opportunity to ask any questions and highlight any concerns. If you are from the local area and support our cause, please make every effort to be there.

Village ‘victory’ makes the press!

ayrshire post 001 (1)A  good article in the Ayrshire Post this week highlights our first Save Straiton for Scotland ‘success’ at Loch Bradan.  Well done everyone! Hopefully there will be several more to follow over the course of this campaign.

Unfortunately the article isn’t available online yet but if you don’t have the paper – you should be able to read the article if you click on the picture to the left – you may have to magnify it slightly if your eyesight is anything like mine!

Straiton Stroll – Sunday 11th August – 1pm

straiton stroll

**Please note – new time of 1pm**
Dust off your walking shoes (or your wellies), come along to the McCandlish Hall and enjoy a pleasant walk up to Dalmorton House via Bennan Woods. Keen walkers can climb to the top of Bennan Hill to get a great view of the local hills, across to Ailsa Craig and to the mountains on Arran.
There will be lifts for non-walkers so everyone can join in the barbecue, beer and summer refreshments. Donations to SSfS welcome.

Scottish Water pull plug on Loch Bradan turbine … for now …

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk 13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk
13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

Anybody who has been trying to access the South Ayrshire Planning link to the single turbine proposed at Loch Bradan, may have noticed that as of Monday (29th July) it was not possible to leave comments, and the status had been changed to ‘Application Withdrawn’. Our Chairman, Bill Steven,  followed up with Scottish Water who have responded with the following:

“Scottish Water will be looking to resubmit our planning application for a wind turbine on this site as we are looking to develop wind power here to help reduce our energy costs. The resubmission is due to the fact that we have looked at reducing the visual impact on the surrounding area and this will be presented to Ayrshire Council in the near future.”

Given this, we can only assume that perhaps Scottish Water underestimated the overwhelming strength of feeling our community and visitors to the area have with regards to protecting this unique and beautiful landscape.  There were already 123 objections which had made it to the South Ayrshire Planning department, including a 12 page letter from the committee at SSfS, and there were still many more in the pipeline.  Thank you  to everyone who took the time to make their feelings known!

Bearing in mind there will be a resubmission from Scottish Water, you (and they) can be assured it will be getting the same level of scrutiny from SSfS, as ‘Visual Impact’ was only one of many issues raised with regards to this application.  We will keep you posted of any developments, and as always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments regarding this issue.

Save Straiton Newsletter #4!

ssfsnews4Hopefully everyone has been enjoying the great weather and getting out and about in the sunshine!  In between sunbathing, the SSfS committee have been busy, and the campaign has been hotting up (sorry – couldn’t resist)!  As there are a few updates and dates for your diary, we have produced an extra edition of our newsletter to highlight these.
Those living locally should have already received their copy through the door, and those living further afield can download their copy here.

* Important reminder … for anyone who is free tomorrow (24th July),  there is a meeting in Dalmellington Community Centre at 10.00am  where a Reporter will be present to hear evidence for and against a proposal to erect 8 turbines at Chalmerston. Last January it was recommended for refusal by East Ayrshire Planning Department. The developers however,  have appealed against the decision.  It would be fantastic if as many people as possible can turn up and show support for our neighbours in Dalmellington who overwhelmingly oppose this development. If you are able to attend – please arrive a bit earlier as as there is likely to be some TV and press attention and a good turnout always attracts interest.

 

Objections do count – wind development is blown off course!

photomontage3b

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk
13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

With the end of July deadline looming for objections to the proposed Loch Bradan turbine, it is worth considering that there are good news stories out there and that every objection really does count!

A 5 turbine wind farm near the Cheviot Hills which received over 1000 objections has been thrown out by the Scottish Borders Council. The full story can be found here.

One of the grounds given for refusal was that: The proposal would have a significantly adverse landscape and visual impact .. in ..a landscape that is currently unaffected by this type of development …‘.  To anyone who has been to the tranquil and unspoilt area of Loch Bradan this statement will ring so true. Hopefully our council planning department will agree.

If there is anyone who is considering objecting to the Loch Bradan turbine, but perhaps feels it won’t make a difference, then the story above may provide some confidence, that even for smaller developments, this is not necessarily the case.  For those who have objected – thank you for your support in helping to protect this cherished landscape.   As a reminder, details on how to object can be found below:

https://savestraitonforscotland.com/about/loch-bradan/how-to-object-loch-bradan/

Note: One letter = one objection regardless of how many people sign it, so, where possible don’t forget to submit multiple objections per household.

Loch Bradan turbine: Object Now!

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk 13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk
13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

As you are aware a ‘surprise’ single turbine application sneaked into South Ayrshire Councils planning process last month. This was the application (13/00626/APP)  from Scottish Water to erect a 101.5m turbine at the edge of Loch Bradan, and as you can see from this picture it’s not trivial!
We agreed as a committee that we would like to fight this proposal from both a personal perspective, and from the SSfS perspective in order to protect this truly unique area, and to avoid setting a precedent for other turbines and windfarm developments around Straiton.  It was also agreed not to use our supporters funds to do this – saving that for our larger applications.  Given the  knowledge that has been built on the planning process combined with the wealth of expertise that exists within the community about the area where the turbine is being proposed, we have been able to get our heads together and prepare some information on ‘how to object and draw your attention to some valid objection topics.  Please spare some time to support us .    Below are a couple of pointers to help you on your way:
  • Timescales:  as soon as possible – there is no specific deadline for objections, but it is likely to be decided around the end of July, at which time objections will no longer be accepted.
  • One objection per individual in each household and if you have friends or family who understand what is at stake here, it would be great to encourage them to support us too.
  • If you don’t know where to start or have any questions at all – just contact us and  we will be more than happy to help.
  • We understand some people do not have access to a computer and / or simply don’t have time to write a letter so look out for addressed leaflets that we will be distributing in the local area as well as having some in The Buck cafe for people to sign. 

Thank you all once again for your continued support and  Happy Objecting!

Objections to the Loch Bradan wind turbine

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk 13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

Source: neo-environmental.co.uk
13/00626/APP Photomontage 3

Please be aware the Save Straiton committee are preparing a ‘how to object’ page for anyone who wishes to raise concerns about  the proposed wind turbine at Loch Bradan, but may be unsure about how to go about it. This turbine is 101m to blade tip  as mentioned in a previous post  and has been described by the developers as “intentionally sited down along by the lochs shoreline..to reduce its prominence in the landscape”.  

The location is only 1 mile away from the Glenmount site, so there is a real concern that this would set a precedent for large scale wind farms and further inappropriate developments in this area.  The committee will not be using funds raised by the campaign to fight this development, but will be on hand to help out and provide information and advice to anyone who wishes to object.  Please watch this space for further information which should be available in the next couple of days.

To view details of the application, which includes photomontages, landscape and visual impact assessments, ecology and ornithology reports  please click here.

Rare bird flies into turbine on Harris

wtnAround 30 birdwatchers travelled to Harris this week to view a very rare white-throated needletail, which breeds in Asia and winters in Australasia.  One enthusiast who went to the Western Isles to view the bird told of his “dismay” after watching it fly into a wind turbine and die.  The bird has only been recorded five times in the UK since 1950.

A spokeswoman for the RSPB said: “Whilst the collision of this unusual visitor with a small domestic wind turbine is very unfortunate, incidents of this sort are really very rare. Careful choice of location and design of wind farms and turbines prevents, as much as possible, such occurrences happening on a large scale.”
To view the full article please click here.