Controversial plans for a wind farm in the Rhins have been met with a storm of protest.
Wind Energy (North Rhins) Ltd want to build 11 wind turbines on land at Low Auchenree, High Auchenree, Craigenlee, Crailloch and Dunskey near Port Patrick.
One hundred and eight letters objecting against the proposals have been received by the planning department – including some from as far away as Carlisle, Leeds, Yorkshire, Glasgow and Tyne and Wear.
The objectors claim the development will be wholly inappropriate for the site.
But the planning department have recommended the wind farm be approved.
They have responded to the objections by saying that the “dash for wind” in Britain has seen the more ideal sites in Galloway taken already by energy companies – and that this site at Port Patrick is the next best thing.
Now the plans are due to go before a meeting of Wigtown Area Committee in the Ryan Centre at Stranraer on Wednesday.
Planning officer Peter Barker says in a report: “The objectors are obviously concerned about the apparent market free-for-all from wind energy operators.
“Developers are now turning their attention to sites that have lower wind speeds and potentially conflict more severely with natural heritage destinations.” The turbines will be visible from 45 per cent of the Rhins, and from Loch Ryan and Luce Bay, and will dominate views locally and for many miles around, according to objectors.
One said: “The farm will be clearly visible along the Southern Upland Way in particular, where several wind farms already exist or are proposed.”
Mr Barker’s report goes on to say that the Scottish Government see renewable energy as a “great source of developing indigenous industries” and that the local planning department have a duty to support Scotland’s economic development.
The 100metre-high turbines, if approved, will have three metre-deep concrete foundations and underground cabling, an electrical sub-station and control building and an anemometer mast.
It is thought they could generate enough energy to power 25,300 homes – 23 per cent of the households in Dumfries and Galloway.
It is also proposed to create 6km of new roads to the site and new access points at Enoch Farm.
SEPA, the MOD, Prestwick Airport and Portpatrick Community Council have lodged no objections, but the RSPB have voiced concerns over the potential collision risk of peregrine falcons with the blades and tension wires holding up the turbines.
Mike Davies, managing director of Wind Energy (North Rhins) Limited said: “The high ground at the site has exceptional wind resource, with consistent winds blowing in from across the Irish Sea.
“This makes it a very efficient place to locate a wind farm.
“In less windy locations, the energy yield from turbines would be lower and more turbines would be required to deliver the same amount of electricity.”
He added: “The North Rhins wind farm planning application represents the culmination of two years of detailed survey and assessment work.
“This work, and feedback from the local community through the exhibitions we held, has helped us design a scheme that has a minimal impact on the area.
“We have been pleased to find that public reaction has been positive and largely supportive.
“As with any wind farm project, concerns have been raised throughout the project development process and Wind Energy have taken measures to resolve as many of these issues as possible in the run-up to the submission of the planning application.”
Wigtown Area Committee will meet to decide the application at 1pm on Wednesday at the Ryan Centre, Stranraer.
6 March 2008
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