The controversy over the Blackcraig Windfarm plans has been going on since the Scottish and Southern Energy Ltd plans for the Glenkens area first came to light more than three years ago
Because the proposed development would exceed 50MW of electrical generation, the application falls to be considered under Section 36 of the Electricity Act of 1989 and the final decision will rest with the Scottish Executive irrespective of the eventual outcome of the Stewartry Area Committee meeting at Castle Douglas.
In a report to the Stewartry councillors prepared by case officer Dean Clapworthy, members were told that the Scottish Executive had consulted all of the other relevant statutory consultees and the views sought from the council were therefore restricted to its local role, such as local planning policy, landscape impact, local roads network, environmental health issues and archaeology.
The application site extends along a ridge of hills, which includes Troquhain Hill at the west, Blackcraig Hill in the centre and Fell Hill at the east. The ridge is around 5km in length and the site in total covers an area of approximately 9 sq km. The A702 and A712 bound the site to the north and south with Balmaclellan being around 4.5km from the site. Presently, the majority of the site consists of rough grazing land with some commercial forestry on the north facing slopes.
The application is for a wind farm development of 23 three-bladed, horizontal axis upwind turbines with a rotor diameter of nominally 90m, a hub height of 65m and a maximum ground to tip height not exceeding 110m, coloured light grey. They will have a concrete foundation of approximately 1.5-3m in depth, depending on the ground conditions as well as two permanent 65m high anemometer masts and up to four temporary anemometer masts and an electrical substation and underground cabling.
Approximately 31 hectares of commercial forestry will be clear felled to accommodate the development with the turbines generally arranged as a line of structures with the majority being sited on the south side of the ridge with connecting clusters focussed around Troquhain Hill in the west and Fell Hill in the east.
Corsock and Kirkpatrick Durham Community Council says local roads are already in a poor state of repair and the extra traffic generated by the construction works will result in increased levels of pollution, dust and dirt on roads, adversely impacting on the quality of life in Corsock village and surrounding area.
The council adds that there will be over 9000 vehicle movements during the 12 month construction period. It was of significant concern that the keeping of local roads in an acceptable state of repair might be relaxed during this period and there was concern that controlling the traffic through the village was likely to become contentious as speeding was already a problem.
They were also concerned about the impact on private water supplies to nearby dwellings and the impact on tourism businesses.
Glencairn Community Council objected on the grounds that the proposal would be absolutely “in your face” with no pretence at concealment and would be in full view from parts of Moniaive, which will already be able to see Wether Hill.
Mr Clapworthy said the council had received 612 letters of representations, 529 objecting to the proposal and 83 supporting. This included letters copied to the council from the Scottish Executive and a substantial number of representations via a standard objection pro-forma produced by Galloway Landscape and Renewable Energy (GLARE). Additionally, the council had received a copy of a document titled “˜Critique of the Environmental Statement’ by Geoffrey Sinclair and commissioned by GLARE.
The issues raised by GLARE referred to: landscape and visual impact; amenity and recreation; ecology and wildlife; noise and nuisance; economy and tourist and contribution of renewable energy.
They say that while the power station might make some contribution to the Scottish Executive’s renewable energy target for 2010, recent reports by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland have shown that existing and consented wind projects already meet the target, while many current planning applications are considered speculative. There was therefore no pressing need to approve a further project in a sensitive area such as Blackcraig.
The letters of support said the proposal would be good for the environment in terms of secure and sustainable energy production, reduction in reliance on fossil fuel generated electricity, and the local community with regard to job creation and investment.
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