Straiton windfarm proposals rejected- but Government could overturn them

Plans for a 17 turbine wind farm development near Straiton have been rejected by South Ayrshire Councillors- but their decision could yet be overturned by the Scottish Government.

Willowind Energy’s proposals for a site at Linfairn were unanimously rejected at a planning meeting on Wednesday March 4.

That was despite the developers reducing the planned number of turbines from 25 to 17 following an addendum submission to the council in December last year.

Each of the turbines at the site will be over 415ft in height and South Ayrshire’s strategic planner John Esselmont saying the plans would have a “substantial impact” on the Girvan valley.

And once he was finished outlining the plans to panel members, they queued up to object to the proposals.

Maybole, North Carrick and Coylton Councillor Ann Galbraith said: “This is certainly not the right place for a wind farm. It would be in a tourism area and I think we’ve got to get to a stage with these proposals when we say enough is enough.”

Councillor Ian Douglas said: “The south-west of Scotland probably has more than its fair share of wind turbines already and whilst I fully support the council having a green energy policy I think we should be looking more to tidal rather than wind energy.”

And Councillor William Grant added: “These turbines would have a massive impact on the areas surrounding Maybole, Crosshill and Straiton and I object to these plans.”

Chair of the panel, councillor Peter Convery summed up; “I do have a degree of sympathy with the applicant but really I have to say I think this is a bridge or indeed a turbine too far.”

The council weren’t the determining authority for the plans with the decision now heading for the Scottish Government.

Suki Atwal, director of Willowind expressed his disappointment at the decision.

He said: ““We are disappointed that the South Ayrshire Council Regulatory Panel voted last week to raise an objection to our proposal. “We believe that by taking this decision without the benefit of SNH’s response, the Panel has taken a view without full access to all the necessary information. However, we respect their decision and now move on to the next stage of the determination process.”

However, Mr Atwal was keen to stress that community support is rising for the proposals particularly after they held an event at Ayrshire College last week which was attended by the chamber of commerce and members of the North Carrick Community Benefit Company.

He added: “Our community benefit package of £272,000 per annum will ensure that the local communities in North Carrick can invest in their future. Our proposals also represent a capital investment well in excess of £50m that will provide a much needed boost to the North Carrick and South Ayrshire economy.

“We recognise that the Save Straiton for Scotland campaign has been vociferous in their opposition to the scheme. However, in recent months we have seen rising support for our proposals.”

Valerie Russell, chief executive of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Linfairn Wind Farm could represent a great opportunity to help local companies to grow and expand which can only help the local economy.”

Mark Fletcher, chair of the community benefit company added: “The NCCBC is committed to providing benefit for all the communities of North Carrick and is delighted to be working with WilloWind, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, Ayrshire College, the Scottish Rural College and the University of the West of Scotland to maximise the benefits that these partnerships can offer. Working with these partners we can help to create a sustainable legacy for the future of our communities by enhancing access to education and skills training, improving local employment and business growth and improving tourism and recreation.”