The controversial Blackcraig windfarm application has been given the thumbs down by councillors.
A Stewartry Area Committee meeting last week at Kirkcudbright Town Hall lodged an objection to Scottish and Southern Energy’s multi-million pound proposal.
Kirkcudbright member Patsy Gilroy was given the deciding vote as chairman after the project received three votes in favour and three against.
She stood by her original vote with Dumfries and Galloway Council’s group manager, corporate support and governance Alex Haswell then explaining exactly why an objection had been lodged.
He told the meeting: “The area committee has objected to the application on the grounds that there would be material adverse effects of local landscape on a ridge line.”
After nearly six hours of intense debate and discussion, Galloway Landscape and Renewable Energy (GLARE) co-ordinator Alison Chapman left the meeting in tears.
She was surrounded by fellow protestors and well-wishers as councillors discussed an additional application to construct a 132KV overhead line and wooden poles on the site.
They decided unanimously to object to that development between Killochy and Blackcraig on the basis that it would be “visually intrusive and detrimental to the environment.”
The Blackcraig development is now on the agenda at a Dumfries and Galloway Council Planning and Environment Committee meeting at council chambers in Dumfries on Tuesday December 12.
A public inquiry will be called for if members at that meeting object to the application.
Scottish and Southern Energy want to build a windfarm consisting of 23 turbines covering an area of 9 sq km.
The Scottish Executive have the final say on the proposal as the windfarm would produce more than 50MW of electrical generation.
A key component of the councillors decision was to uphold a directive stated in the Stewarty Local Plan.
Under General Policy 7, it says that a planning authority will “require development to have no material adverse effect on the local landscape character, avoiding prominent ridge lines or other visually sensitive areas.”
Mrs Chapman warned that the fight against the windfarm was just beginning and said: “This is only a reprieve.
“Our councillors have made a good call on this one and we welcome it.
“I expected no more from our councillors. They came to the right decision and it was a decision I expected responsible councillors to make.
“It was a decision made in accordance with policy documents which state that developments are to avoid ridge lines.
“If Blackcraig goes to a public inquiry that will offer the most widespread and informed public debate on the why, where and how our area can make its contribution to the Executive’s drive to encourage renewable energy.
“Blackcraig is a prominent feature easily recognised from as far away as the Isle of Man.
“A string of 365ft high turbines across the ridge would be like putting the Forth Rail Bridge up there.”
Supporters of the windfarm were stunned by the objection.
Roland Chaplain, of the Glenkens sustainable development told the “˜News’: “The silent majority of people living in the Glenkens who presumed that the councillors decision would be a formality remain shocked at what happened last Friday.
“None of the three councillors who voted to “˜object’ had taken the trouble to find out from us what the implications would be of such a decision.
“Worst of all, however, was the way in which the Chair abused the use of her casting vote.
“It was utterly irresponsible for her to ignore the unanimous advice of council officials, the strong support for the project from our local councillor and the effective demolition of all the relevant arguments put forward by the objectors.
“One wonders just how the Chair of the Stewartry Area Committee is going to justify her actions to the Planning and Environment Committee on December 12.”
Dumfries and Galloway Council area planning manager Ronnie Irving said: “The Blackcraig windfarm application is now on the agenda at the Planning and Environment Committee meeting next month.
“The members will on that day only consider the policy implications of the application.”
By Colin Payerson
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