When the Siddells moved to rural Ayrshire, they hoped for a life of peace and quiet. Now, at night, they say they can’t hear the television properly because of the wind turbines that loom over their converted steading.
Kay, 61, who is essentially housebound with rheumatoid arthritis, feels angry that the wind farm was allowed to go ahead despite its proximity to her home. “Our human rights have been compromised,” she says. “We can’t use our home and garden in the same way. You can always see several turbines from the corner of your eye, from every room in the house, and it’s the movement, the constant churning round, that drives me mad. There’s no enjoyment to be had any more from going outside. It’s like living in a kaleidoscope.
“If they are moving at night, it’s hard to sleep and you can hear them over the sound of the television. It’s an insidious noise that really gets under your skin. The constant whooshing “¦ it’s like living next to the M8 when it’s busy. Our home is the only thing of value we have, and it has been devalued by these turbines. But most people, if they had money to spend on a house, wouldn’t spend it on one that was surrounded by turbines. It’s just heart-breaking.”
Kay and her civil-engineer husband John, 57, moved to Old Dailly in South Ayrshire, close to Girvan, in 1988. By 2005, the neighbouring hillsides had become home to Hadyard Hill wind farm. From their property, the couple can see 40 of the 52 turbines erected by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE). The turbines begin some two kilometres away but the Siddells estimate that the nearest 12 are just 700 metres from their home.
“When my husband came out of the army, we lived in Hampshire and the sheer number of people and constant gridlocked traffic made us desperate to move somewhere quieter,” says Kay. “I’m not really a town person, so we moved to Ayrshire because of the beautiful, rural setting and the peace and quiet.”
On hearing of the plans for a wind farm, the couple stated their opposition at several public meetings. “Two days before Christmas we read on Teletext that the go-ahead had been given, and four weeks later we received a letter of confirmation. I wrote to Jack McConnell to point out the serious repercussions and we received a letter back basically saying that the decision had gone through, tough luck, live with it.”
The Siddells say that what they found most galling was the fact their own planning application to improve their home was turned down. “We applied to extend our house upwards and were told that it wouldn’t be permitted because it’s in a place of outstanding beauty, which I found absolutely laughable,” says Kay.
“Until people are faced with the turbines, they think we’re making a lot of fuss about nothing. Looking at them from 18 miles away doesn’t give you any sense of what it’s like to live right under them, of the noise and motion. It’s not a case of whether I think they’re useful or useless, but they can’t just blanket the country with them.”
A spokeswoman for SSE said: “The planning process for developing a wind farm is extremely long and has wide consultation with interested bodies across the area.” She said the company had been responsive to the community’s needs and had reduced the planned number of turbines and taken them off the ridge line, “doing a lot to reduce the visual impact of the site”.
She added: “From the time we applied for planning consent to the time it was granted there were only 11 objections locally, which, to such a big project, is an indication that it was generally well received and that we [did] the absolute best to take into account the concerns of local people. The planning process is the vehicle under which these concerns are addressed and decisions are made by the Scottish Executive and, to an extent, the local authority.”
By Marisa Duffy
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