A fifteen-year-old fighting to save his community says energy giants could kill the countryside.
Schoolboy Stewart Calderwood has led a four-year battle to stop wind farms sprouting up on the hills around Dalmellington.
A proposed outdoor activity centre at Craigengillan Estate hangs in the balance and won’t go ahead if turbines are erected.
But Stewart and a team of local youngsters have hit the streets to gather thousands of signatures in protest against the wind farm schemes.
And the Bellsbank kid reckons it’s time politicians started listening to the young and took notice of the huge backlash coming their way.
Stewart revealed: “I’ve been collecting signatures for more than three years now and am determined to get the message across.
“The number of objections to these wind farms should make it a fairly easy decision for the politicians as far as I’m concerned.
“If these plans go ahead I’ll be absolutely gutted and so will the people down here. It’s not that we’re against wind turbines, it’s just that the location is all wrong.”
Energy giants AMEC and Scottish Power have applied for permission to build two wind farms on the border of Dalmellington.
A public enquiry is ongoing into the biggest of the two applications at Kyle Forrest after East Ayrshire Council lodged a formal objection with the Scottish Executive, who will make a final decision.
The second application by Scottish Power for 26 turbines at Dersalloch, between Straiton and Dalmellington, went before South Ayrshire Council last month.
However, councillors ignored a recommendation from their own officials to lodge a formal objection and gave it their stamp of approval.
Stewart, who has spoken out against the plans at the public enquiry, pointed out: “I was happy to stand up and speak at the enquiry and put my point across.
“I just hope that what I said had some sort of impact.”
And he’s outraged at suggestions made at a South Ayrshire planning meeting that young people were PAID to campaign against the turbines.
Stewart hit out: “That’s just ridiculous and he clearly didn’t think before he said that because it’s totally untrue.
“Myself and Steven Kelly, the other main guy involved in the campaign, have been out on the streets in all weathers during the winter collecting these signatures.
“We’re doing it because we care about the future of this place and to be accused of getting paid for it is just insulting.”
Craigengillan chief Mark Gibson slammed the council for paying no attention to the objections and treating the youngsters with contempt.
He admitted: “They’ve shown a terrible attitude and these comments about Stewart and the others being paid are downright disgusting.
“They did it for themselves and the village and the whole place is proud of them for such a tremendous effort.
“Stewart is a great example of how the youth in this area can be encouraged to thrive and we can have such a bright future.
“His effort and that of others needs to be recognised.”
By Stuart Wilson
9 May 2007