Linfairn wind farm WIN-370-1
I wish to object to the above proposal for the following reasons:
Landscape / Visual amenity
The proposed development is not within the South Ayrshire Local Plan (SALP) preferred areas of search. Although the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan (AJSP) and the SALP are generally supportive of renewable energy, this general support is not unequivocal. This proposal would be completely out of scale with the surrounding landscape and demonstrates on many occasions within photomontages and the LVIA to have significant adverse landscape and visual impacts.
This is a classic example of an ‘inappropriate’ setting for development requiring the safeguards accorded by the SPP – it is only area in the world which borders a Biosphere, a Forest Park, and a Dark Sky Park with an observatory, not to mention Knockgardner SSSI.
The proposed wind farm development is also inappropriate as it would degrade the landscape value and high scenic appeal of this area. In addition, it would have severe negative impacts on the quality of life for nearby residents. Its amenity impact is considerable and runs contrary to the Local Development Plan (Sustainable Development Policy).
The proposal will not maintain and improve landscape quality. Sited between two hills that provide a backdrop to the Upper Girvan valley, it would dominate the surrounding area, contrary to the Local Development Plan (Wind Energy, Landscape Quality and Spatial Strategy) and the South Ayrshire Landscape Wind Capacity Study (2013). The developer’s own photomontages demonstrate how the turbines break the horizon which devalues the features of this unique landscape.
The turbines would completely dominate the landscape character area and neighbouring LCT’s detracting from their rare and scenic qualities as demonstrated by the South Ayrshire Landscape Wind Capacity Study (July 2013).
The turbines are so vast in comparison to the peripheral hills which surround the Girvan Valley, that they completely over power the summits – Gennoch Inner Hill, Black Hill of Knockgardner, Cawin hill and Benyaw.
The Addendum understates the magnitude of landscape effect and the consequential geographical extent of significant effect. In direct conflict with SNH guidelines these turbines are not at all minor in scale in relation to the key features of the landscape: in some cases they are the same height as the peripheral hills.
Economic Impact / Tourism
The local adverse impacts are considerable, not merely to amenity, landscape and ecology, but also threatening some local tourism initiatives and jobs.
Within 3 miles of Straiton there are no less than 14 businesses (34 properties) providing accommodation, food and provisions for tourists. Thousands of visitors every year come to enjoy the visual and recreational amenities surrounding this area. The Addendum understates the impact as minimal.
There can be no doubt that the whole experience for the visitors to the locality and the wider area will inevitably be devalued. A recent VisitScotland Survey showed that 20% of visitors would not return to an area with wind farms. There is no tourism business in this area that could absorb a 20% reduction in trade. The costs to the local people and the area far outweigh any proposed benefits of the development.
The proposed access route (predicted to carry thousands of additional vehicles throughout construction) is within metres of the conservation village of Straiton, crosses several well used local footpaths, and cycle routes, and is dangerously close to the local fishing club’s most popular Salmon beat. Despite the applicants repeated claim, this demonstrates the total lack of sincere local engagement.
The application documents outlines a last minute access compromise, whereby thousands of additional construction vehicles will lumber through Maybole, Kirkland Street, which houses two primary schools and already has recognised traffic issues. The route continues towards Crosshill paying no heed to the National Cycle Network (Route 7). There has little consultation with the residents of Crosshill, who are to accommodate the impact created by thousands vehicles expected to pass through this Conservation Village during construction.
Ecology mitigation strategies and the ‘Habitat Management Plan’ etc have still not been fully laid out for the purposes of the proposal and therefore approval has the potential to detrimentally affect the local wild life, vulnerable bird and bat species, ecology and environment.
1 – The proposal is a classic example of an “inappropriate” setting for development given the safeguards accorded by the SPP. Furthermore it is not within the South Ayrshire Local Plan preferred areas of search for wind farms. The application documents demonstrate this proposal would be completely out of scale with the surrounding landscape break impressive and hitherto untainted skylines devalue unique landscape features and provide an alien and dominant backdrop to the intimate pastoral valley of the River Girvan. As such it is not in accord with AJSP ECON7, ENV1(e) STRA1 or the recent and up to date Wind Capacity Study 2013.
2 – The turbines would adversely impact the amenity and totally dominate the setting of the conservation village of Straiton one of only 3 villages locally to have been designated as “outstanding” by the Scottish Government and so make a mockery of its status and contravene the Local Plan BE3.
3 – Access: a last minute access compromise is presented whereby thousands of additional construction vehicles will lumber through Kirkland Street Maybole then through the Conservation Village of Crosshill and finally on to a field beside the Girvan Bridge within metres of Straiton itself. The predicted 40,000 extra journeys are projected to pass by no less than 2 primary schools cross several local footpaths, cycle routes and run dangerously close to the popular salmon beat of a local fishing club. Despite the repeated claims by the applicant this demonstrates the total lack of sincere local engagement and respect.
4 – Tourism: The development is contrary to AJSP ECON7, ECON12 and ECON 13 which seek to promote and safeguard the Ayrshire tourism resource. This is the only area in the world which borders a Biosphere a Forest Park and a Dark Sky Park with an observatory not to mention Knockgardner SSSI. Within 4kms of Straiton there are 14 businesses (34 properties) providing accommodation food and provisions for tourists. None of these local businesses could absorb a reduction in trade yet the recent VisitScotland Survey found that 20% of visitors would not return to a wind farm area. Yet the ES understates the impact as “minimal”.
5 – Ecology: mitigation strategies and the “Habitat Management Plan” have not been fully laid out in the proposal. Approval could detrimentally affect local wild life vulnerable bird and bat species ecology and environment. With respect to Leislers bats alone no surveys “at height” or detailed investigations into where the bats are roosting have been undertaken – as such the application does not adhere to the Bat Conservation Trust Guidance or the SPP paras 142 to 145 whereby detailed mitigation studies and investigations ought to be submitted before the application is considered for consent.
6 – Photomontages: These are misleading and difficult to work with contravening SNH guidelines (2006). For example some are deceptively misty or taken from a stance where a specific tree provides screening. Of 20 selected viewpoints only 1 provides a frontal view of the project (even this is from an elevated position) and only 4 are taken within 5kms. This is a very poor distribution of viewpoints.
7 – Economic Benefit: The only local “economic benefit” identified in the application is a suggestion of “possible” “temporary” employment during the construction phase. Meanwhile the local adverse impacts are considerable – to amenity, landscape and ecology but also threatening vulnerable local tourism initiatives and jobs. This is not in accord with Local Plan ENV8.