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New wind farm policy agreed by the council

An updated Wind Energy Interim Planning Policy was on Tuesday by councillors at a meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Planning Housing and Environment Committee.

Vice-Chair of the Planning, Housing and Environment Committee, Councillor Ian Carruthers, said, “The updated policy is necessary because of Scottish Planning Policy and associated Scottish Government guidance issued in February 2011. A huge amount of work went into producing these new guidelines, so I am pleased that they have been agreed. They will be taken into account when our council receives an application that involves wind energy.”

Mid Galloway Councillor Graham Nicol added: “This policy will eventually tie in with the local development plan, being worked on at the moment, in 2013.

“We have been asking for it for three of four years now and now it is in place we have a policy that is much more robust. It give councillors guidance as to where we can and can’t allow windfarms and it will also help give applicants guidance as to when they can expect problems which may or may not be able to be addressed.”

Dumfries and Galloway Council carried out a consultation on the Interim Planning Policy last year. The consultation was advertised in local papers and the documents were available through local libraries and on line. Public meetings were held across the region and community councils were asked for their views.

Important changes were made as a result of the consultation and include:

– SNH/RSPB high sensitivity bird mapping as a constraint

– Expansion of the ‘Other Considerations’ section to reflect comments from the consultation, including a map showing the core area of the Dark Skies Park

– Landscape sensitivity done at Stage 3 rather than Stage 2 with changes to Search Area maps. This better reflects Scottish Government on line guidance

– Amendments to one Cumulative Sensitivity zone

– A Habitats Regulation Assessment has been carried out

– Changes to policies

The council also commissioned the Dumfries and Galloway Landscape Capacity study. This looked at the capacity of our landscape to accept, in visual terms, additional turbine development and the type and nature of development acceptable in different locations. The study will act as a supporting technical document to the Interim Planning Policy.