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!

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

Keirs Hill – the missing view

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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?

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 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.

Mad money: Scotland’s new gold rush

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an excellent article in the Scottish Review by editor, Kenneth Roy, the background of WilloWind is detailed – as far as details can be ascertained from this rather secretive company as their investors prefer to remain anonymous.
“The people who do business at 30 St James’s Square, London SW1, are 350 miles from the conservation village of Straiton on the Ayrshire-Galloway border, though much further if distance can also be measured by temperament and outlook. But the worlds of corporate London and rural Scotland, which have kept to their own patches until now, can no longer avoid each other. They are engaged in a battle to decide how our countryside will look and feel – even sound – for at least the next quarter of a century.
As individuals, the people who do business at 30 St James’s Square, London SW1, keep the lowest of profiles on the internet and their company’s website is a small one – it tells us little of interest about the business and names none of the directors. It is merely ‘passionate about renewable energy’. As well it might be.
What we do know is that WilloWind Energy Ltd, though shy about itself, is far from shy about its ambitions for Straiton and the neighbouring villages of Kirkmichael and Crosshill. It proposes to build 25 wind turbines there.”
To read more click here.

Glenauchie application details

Since posting about last night about the single turbine at Glenauchie, the South Ayrshire website seems to have been having problems. I am sure it will be sorted out, but if you wish to comment on the application in the meanwhile, you can of course email them at:
planning.development@south-ayrshire.gov.uk

The reference for the Glenauchie turbine is

13/01018/APP
Proposed Wind Turbine at Glenauchie
– Erection of wind turbine, ancillary infrastructure and formation of associated access track

You could mark it to the attention of the case officer, Austin Cooke

 

Or you could write to

The Planning Service,
South Ayrshire Council,
Burns House,
Burns Statue Square,
Ayr KA7 1UT

 

Single Turbine at Glenauchie: objection window closes soon

Glenauchie-wireframe-photoAn application for a single turbine has been made to South Ayrshire Council at Glenauchie in the upper Girvan valley. A single turbine might seem small beer compared with the Linfairn wind farm proposal: however the fact remains that the proposed Glenauchie turbine is 77m high – which is 253 feet, and so it far exceeds the height limits set by South Ayrshire’s own guidelines. It would be easy, but wrong, to ignore the Glenauchie application simply because it is in the shadow of the Linfairn application. It would set a precedent for developers to try bypass the planning guidelines which exist.

In the South Ayrshire Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study of July 2013, it states on page 58 (guidance for Intimate Pastoral Valleys), that: “The assessment found no scope for the large and medium typologies (turbines >50m) to be accommodated within the Intimate Pastoral Valley (13) landscape character type.” The study recommends that there would be very limited scope for single turbines at the lower end of the 30-50m range in this landscape context – i.e. less than half the height of the turbine being proposed. (Click here to download the report in PDF form)

At SaveStraiton, we agree strongly with South Ayrshire’s own view that large industrial turbines are unsuitable in this intimate valley context. It would be very good if any objections to the Glenauchie turbine could be made AS SOON AS POSSIBLE on the South Ayrshire planning website: CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR COMMENT

The closing date is officially past, but comments are still being accepted.

You could also point out the turbine’s proximity to the designed landscape of Craigengillan estate, and its proximity to the Galloway Forest Park, the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park and to the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere.

UN rules in favour of Argyllshire Community Councillor

Reported in the Telegraph at the end of August was an article about how the UN had ruled in favour of Christine Metcalf that the UK Government had acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over the approval of wind farms.

It went on to state “The United Nations Economic Commission Europe declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which states that citizens must be allowed to fully participate in environmental issues.

It also criticised the UK’s failure to give people the “necessary information” about the benefits or negative impacts of turbines in a ruling that could call into question the legal validity of future wind farms unless Government policy is changed.

Mrs Metcalfe took her case to the UN in Geneva, Switzerland after becoming increasingly frustrated when trying to access information about a wind farm built near her Taynuilt home. The community councillor argued that the UK’s renewables policies had been drawn up in such a way that it denied the public the right to be informed. She claimed this prevented people from learning of the negative effects that wind power can have on health, the environment and the economy.”

In view of this it might well be worth mentioning the Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention in any letters of objection.

Stroll up, stroll up

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Stroll up, stroll up

Despite the showers around a hundred folk attended a barbecue at Dalmorton House most of whom had strolled up from Straiton through Bennan Woods. Pictures of the proposed wind turbines were on show to demonstrate just what the devastating impact the turbines would have on views from this walk. A delicious lunch which included a whole roast lamb greeted the walkers with beer and wine to quench their thirst.
Our thanks to all those who helped organise the Stroll and to Whirly and Jock Marshall and family for their kind hospitality. Although not a fund-raising event over £600 was contributed to campaign funds.

From our friends in the south

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Our friends in the south

Over the last few months support for the campaign to protect this beautiful part of the country from inappropriate development has come from far and wide. Here is an extract from a letter from Andrew Poole and family from Liverpool who were visiting the Galloway Forest Park and Straiton.
“After experiencing not only the village itself, but the surrounding environment and wild countryside, and then learning about the possible coming destruction and negative impact on the area, how could we not support the campaign? Though only a few, we readily signed the petition that was available within The Buck teashop.
Upon our arrival home to Liverpool, even after a wonderful week of camping with many stories to share, it was the people of Straiton and your current situation that we spoke about the most. Not only was the destruction of the natural environment, or the possible negative impact on the local economy, a concern for those that we had informed, but also the total disregard for Straiton’s personal freedom to enjoy your homes, land and environment the way you see fit. This issue alone was enough to spur even supporters of wind farming on to support your cause.”
Enclosed with the letter was a further 51 signatures on our petition which the Poole family had gathered upon their return.

Secret diesel back-up generators exposed by the Daily Mail

smoke-from-genratorAn article in the Daily Mail reveals that there are “Thousands of dirty diesel generators are being secretly prepared all over Britain to provide emergency back-up to prevent the National Grid collapsing when wind power fails.

And under the hugely costly scheme, the National Grid is set to pay up to 12 times the normal wholesale market rate for the electricity they generate.”

Read more here 

European Court of Justice ruling a ‘victory’ for citizens

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European Court of Justice ruling a 'victory' for citizens

An article in the Carrick Gazette describes the importance of the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice in upholding a submission brought by European Platform Against Windfarms (EPAW).
“The Commission has failed to conduct technical studies calculating how many tonnes of fossil fuels will really be saved by the hundreds of thousands of wind turbines it wants to force onto rural populations and on avian and marine life. “As it turns out, various independent engineers estimate there will be no savings at all, so the people are more than justified to seek redress,” says Mark Duchamp, the conservationist who runs EPAW.
Read the full article here, it is not long and well worth it.

National Park status for Galloway and Southern Ayrshire?


unfinished-business

A report written by John Mayhew for the Scottish Campaign for National Parks (SCNP) calls for the creation of seven new parks; including one which would cover parts of Galloway and South Ayrshire. To downlload the report click here.

He states ” Any National Park in Galloway would preferably bring together the three National Scenic Areas (NSAs), and could also incorporate an additional marine component in the Solway Firth. The three NSAs feature a rich variety of dynamic coastal scenery, including extensive estuaries and mudflats, with views south to the Cumbrian fells. There is a gradual transition from the coastline through a well-wooded farming landscape with many traditional features including fields, dykes and hedges to the upland haills. The National Forest Park includes the Merrick, the highest mountain in Southern Scotland, and has more recently acquired reputations for mountain biking trails and for the quality of stargazing allowed by its dark skies. This diversity makes Galloway an outstanding example of the type of fine landscapes Scotland has to offer beyond its classic and best-known Highland scenery. Parts of this area overlap with the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere reserve and with the Galloway Dark Sky Park.”

The map here shows the location of the seven proposed National Parks.

proposed-parks-map

101m high turbine at Loch Bradan?

loch-bradan2big

Scottish Water are applying for planning permission to install a 101m turbine on the shores of Loch Bradan. In the photograph above the turbine would be located just to the left of the figure next to the loch.

You can view the application details by clicking here. There are photomontages but they do not show the turbine in position, the wireframe drawing below indicates how it would appear.

If you wish to object please do so by 4th August.

loch-bradan1

Wind farm subsidies revealed

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Wind farm subsidies revealed

Here are links to two articles in the Telegraph about the enormous subsidies paid out to wind farm companies. The first article reveals that each job is subsidised by over £100,000 and states that “In Scotland, which has 203 onshore wind farms — more than anywhere else in the UK — just 2,235 people are directly employed to work on them despite an annual subsidy of £344million. That works out at £154,000 per job” Click here to read the full story.

The second article is concerned with government policy and how the subsidies could be axed. Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Energy Secretary, is expected to announce details of subsidies for renewable energy in the next few weeks. The article mentions “Mr Osborne is understood to be pressing Mr Davey for onshore subsidy cuts of around 25 per cent for that period. However, the words from Mr Letwin, who is a key Conservative policy guru, go much further in strongly suggesting the entire subsidy regime will be history by 2020.”

Read the full story here.

Straiton’s View: 92.5% oppose Wind Farm proposals

Straiton from Dyke roadDuring May 2013, we asked for the opinion of all residents of the Parish of Straiton aged 16 and over about the five wind farms which are planned near the village.

163 people returned the form

These are the results:

Question 1:

1 Support all five wind farms

9

5.5%

2 Oppose all five wind farms

151

92.5%

3 Support some wind farms and object to others

2

1.5%

4 Don’t know

1

0.5%

(percentages to the nearest 0.5%)

Question 2 (for those who chose option 3 above):
This option was chosen by 2 respondents: both were in support of Glenmount, were opposed to Linfairn and Knockskae and were neutral on Keirs Hill and Dersalloch.

Note on the poll: As far as we are aware, everyone in the Straiton parish aged 16 and over received an opinion poll form, on which they were given the opportunity to express support or opposition or neutrality towards all five wind farms, either as a whole, or individually. Forms were hand-numbered to avoid duplication but were completely anonymous. The forms were delivered to all houses, including stakeholders in the proposed wind farms. Three households declined to accept the forms. The count was made by two community councillors. 272 individual forms were delivered. The return was 60%. The original form can be downloaded and viewed here.

Telegraph reveals Government pressure on councils to allow more turbines

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Google Earth map of Scotland showing wind farm locations using date provided by SNH. © Crown copyright and database right. 2013. All rights reserved.

Google Earth map of Scotland showing wind farm locations using date provided by SNH. © Crown copyright and database right. 2013. All rights reserved.

The lead story in today’s Telegraph reveals that the Government has been telling councils to re-write their draft local planning documents as some were deemed “too negative”. In Dumfries and Galloway, Simon Pallant, a senior Scottish Government planner, suggested areas of “limited potential” for wind farm development should be called “areas of greatest opportunity”. He also complained that some area had “potential constraints”; these included land identified by the RSPB and SNH as bird sensitivity areas and wild land around the Merrick.

Mr Hall, a Scottish Government principal planner wrote to South Ayrshire Council in February last year complaining that its draft local development plan “feels restrictive” towards turbines and urging it to act “positively” towards renewable developments.

The map shows wind farm development across Scotland based on 2012 data. Many proposed wind farms and some in scoping are not shown.
Read the full article here.

Jim Hume, MSP adds his support

Jim Hume, MSP with Jonathan Meuli, Peter Hadden and Bill Steven

Jim Hume, MSP with Jonathan Meuli, Peter Hadden and Bill Steven

Liberal Democrat MSP for the South of Scotland, Jim Hume, visited Straiton yesterday. He is pictured here by Genoch Inner Hill, just below where turbines are proposed. He was particularly concerned by the scale and number of the developments around the village.

Jim believes “Any progress in the area of wind farm developments must be tailored to fit in with the local environment to avoid any potential damaging cumulative effects. Local circumstances must be given priority when applications for wind farms are being considered. I know from talking with constituents that communities have questioned whether the current situation, which is mainly driven by developers, is truly sustainable in the long term and I believe that the Scottish Government needs to devise a proper strategy. Such a strategy could have the effect of controlling the pace and number of projects across any given area, and would create a more evenly spread distribution of developments, thereby avoiding a concentration in communities like Straiton.”

Caithness wind farm refused

Photo montage showing the proposed turbines

Photo montage showing the proposed turbines

Some good news for those who value ‘wild landscape’. Dunbeath wind farm has been refused on the grounds that “the significant adverse impacts of this proposed wind farm on nearby wild land and key landscape characteristics, in conjunction with the cumulative effect is too great” commented Fergus Ewing, Energy Secretary. He added that “Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that is delivering jobs and investment, and I am determined to ensure communities reap the benefit from renewable energy – but not at any cost.

Click here to read the full story which appeared in The Herald on Saturday 8th June.

Minister’s stay at hotel paid for by wind company

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Minster stay at hotel paid for by wind company

Richard Lochhead and his wife had dinner and a night’s stay at the Castle Hotel in Huntly paid for by RES Ltd last June according to the register of members’ interests. A couple of months later the Government approved RES’s development for a wind farm in Wigtonshire despite it’s rejection by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Read the full story at http://www.westsoundradio.com/news/local/minister-investigated-over-hotel-stay/#.UbDvxOr23Z0.facebook

Hadyard Hill “nightmare”

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A recent article in the Telegraph highlighted the plight of Kay and John Siddell who live near Old Dailly. They enjoyed 18 years in their retirement cottage before the wind farm was built and since then their lives have been blighted by light flicker and intolerable noise. Click here to read the full article.