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Residents against “wall of turbines”

Opponents of a proposed windfarm development claim it would create a “wall of turbines” in the Solway.

Residents on the Stewarty coast voiced their concerns about plans to extend the existing Robin Rigg windfarm at a meeting of Stewartry area committee on Monday night.

And the meeting also raised concerns with local MSP Alex Fergusson about the planning process for offshore windfarms.

The Scottish Government is currently carrying out a consultation exercise on energy giant E.ON’s plans to more than double the size of the existing 60 turbine farm as well as Dong Energy’s proposals for a windfarm at Wigtown Bay.

But people living on the coast are concerned about the impact it will have and believe the existing farm should be used to gauge just how effective wind turbines are at producing electricity.

Julian Stanning, who lives in Rockcliffe, said: “The development appears to ignore Scottish Natural Heritage guidelines on exclusion zones for the construction of offshore wind farms and could result in a wall of turbines running across the entire Solway coastal panorama of the Lake District, Cumbria and the Irish Sea.

“Key questions have also been asked about the real environmental and economic benefit of these developments.

“Wind energy will certainly have a role to play in a diverse renewable energy mix but it must be properly planned and sited.”

Meanwhile, Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson has written to Energy Minister Jim Mather to clarify the planning process for such developments.

He said: “When Robin Rigg was first proposed, the three local authorities whose areas covered the Solway shoreline, originally objected to the proposal in the belief that a public inquiry would be triggered.

“Everyone was astonished when it was learned that planning regulations in relation to offshore wind farms were different to those relating to onshore developments and that the Scottish Government had the right to approve any offshore development without taking into account the views of the local authority.

“This cannot be allowed to happen again in relation to some of the proposals highlighted in the Scottish Government’s draft plan for offshore windfarms in the Solway and I sincerely hope that the minister will be able to give me the assurance that I am seeking in relation to the planning processes that are now in place.”