Dispute over mast height

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RED-FACED energy company Ecotricity has admitted fault over its latest newsletter on the Straid Farm windfarm development which suggested the turbines would be even bigger than first planned.

Residents from Lendalfoot and the surrounding area were furious after reading that the height of their turbines was to increase more than 25 metres to 125m in height.

Ecotricity confirmed the mistake but said the height of the turbines would remain at the 99.5m that was originally proposed.

However, village resident Duncan Walker accused that the company of deliberately hiding the information in the hope that it would not be noticed.

He said: “In the original information they were talking about turbine heights of 99.5 metres, but it says in the leaflet the height is now 125m.

“It says in the leaflet that they want to make sure they keep the local community as fully informed as possible.

“They are keeping the community informed by slipping it in at the back page. I don’t think that’s very good.

“They are not boasting they have increased the height by 25 per cent – they are boasting about taking two wind turbines away and moving two back, but they have moved three forward. And underneath that on the leaflet, under vital statistics, they have increased the height of the turbines by 25 per cent.

“They are boasting about the Ecotricity Community Fund, but it’s only £1000 per megawatt. The going rate is £5000 and they are boasting about a sum which is one-fifth of the going rate.

“The visual impact of this windfarm will be outrageous. They are looking right down to the beach right over the village.”

But Mike Cheshire, PR manager for Ecotricity, moved to calm fears by confirming that the height of the turbines would not be increasing and said it was simply a mistake on the company’s part.

He said: “There’s an error with the turbine details we put in our latest newsletter, for which we apologise as it has obviously caused some confusion.

“The details in the newsletter use the specification for an E82 model which has blade tip height of 126m to tip, rather than the actual E70 we are proposing, which is 100m to tip.

“To be clear, it is the shorter 100m to tip model we are proposing as originally stated. This is for a number of reasons, including that they would be shielded by Pinbain Hill to the north and, therefore, will not create any potential issues with Prestwick Airport’s radar systems.”

Mr Cheshire also stressed that the money offered to the community was at the going rate.

He said: “£1000 per MW installed is the typical sum for wind projects nationally, and we feel an £800,000 fund for the project is a generous one.

“As has been pointed out, we understand that Forestry Commission Scotland has specified that any development on its own land should offer £5000. They may be able to do this for a number of reasons, such as the income from clearing the existing commercial forest on the land, or the economies of scale of such very large projects.”

Ecotricity will find out a week on Thursday if its planning application to erect a temporary weather mast is successful.

South Ayrshire Council’s regulatory panel has been recommended to approve the application with conditions.