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Park fears over 125-turbine windfarm plan

A major windfarm at a Scots country park would "annihilate" the beauty spot and put wildlife at risk, it was claimed last night.

Local residents and campaigners say the proposal to build 125 turbines within Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in North Ayrshire would have a dramatic effect on the area.

Located about four miles west of the village of Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, the Ladymoor Renewable Energy Project would also be the world’s first major windfarm to be capable of storing excess electricity as hydrogen fuel.

However, John Pollock, an architect from Tandlemuir, near Lochwinnoch, expressed concern about Wind Hydrogen Ltd’s £150m scheme, which would feature turbines up to 410ft in height.

He said: "I am in favour of wind power as a concept, but this windfarm would annihilate the public park.

"The towers are half the height of the hills. The proposal is massively out-of-scale with the surrounding environment and totally contradicts the amenities which surround it.

"They are marketing this as an environmentally friendly thing but it is not."

David Bruce, chairman of anti-windfarm pressure group Views of Scotland, said the idea was "stark raving bonkers".

"Whatever you think of windfarms, they should certainly not be placed in regional parks," he said. "It’s not the first time we’ve seen proposals on special protection area but it is the most advanced proposal we have ever had on Scottish parkland.

"Hydrogen technology has never been tried and tested. There is nowhere you can use the fuel, and they slap it in the middle of a public park."

Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park extends from Greenock in the north towards Ardrossan in the south. It is bordered on the west by Largs and by Lochwinnoch to the east. The site includes a protection area for two rare bird species, the hen harrier and the black grouse as well as five sites of special scientific interest and an RSPB reserve at Aird Meadow, home to whooper swan, pochard and teal. A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said they had not yet been contacted by the developer but would examine the application carefully.

The proposed windfarm site is owned by two private farmers – the Hunterston Estate and the Logan family.

A spokeswoman for the two families defended the proposal.

Lady Pauline Hunterston, 53, said: "The way farming is going our incomes are dropping so we have to diversify and find alternatives.

"I feel that with the hydrogen plant we are going to do something worthwhile for Kilbirnie. The steelworks closed in 1982 and there has been very little investment since."

The Scottish Executive has set targets of producing 18% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and 40% by 2020. A spokesman for the executive said: "The targets of 18% and 40% are minimums. We would go further if plans were approved. We feel Scotland has the potential to become a renewable energy powerhouse."

A spokesman for Wind Hydrogen Ltd said the scheme would not adversely affect the environment.

He added: "The park is a vast, vast area and our proposal has been designed very sensitively. It will use the contours of the land to minimise the visual impact. When the public come to our presentations and look at our proposals in their fullness I think they will be pleasantly surprised."

The first in a series of public meetings will be held in West Kilbride tomorrow.