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Turbines plans halved to 10

Developers say they have reduced the number of turbines on a proposed windfarm site following detailed public consultation – but they have increased the height of those remaining by 15 metres.

Originally 20 turbines were earmarked for the Ard Ghaoth Wind Farm near Drymen, producing enough energy to power 11,100 homes.

Now the company behind the proposals, Hamilton-based Banks Renewables, has come back with a redrawing of the plans which halves the number of turbines to just 10.

The project has, however, seen fierce opposition from local campaign group EVAG (Endrick Valley Action Group), which reformed when the news of Banks’ proposals was initially revealed. The group had originally successfully campaigned again the Ballindalloch Windfarm proposals by npower renewables.

Colin Anderson, director of Banks Renewables, said: “Our development with care philosophy is fundamental to everything we do, so when the people living near the site told us there were too many turbines we not only listened, we acted decisively.

“Getting planning permissions for a windfarm is only part of what we do. It is fundamentally important that we have a partnership with a local community, so they back our development and so that local families and businesses see real benefits.

“Based on our engagement with people living near Ard Ghaoth, we believe most are not opposed to windfarms, but felt there were too many turbines for this particular site. We are hopeful our revised plan addresses those concerns.”

Banks Renewables reviewed its original plan in November after local people voiced concern about the visual impact during a series of public meetings and a consultation survey.

The design team was tasked to go back to the drawing board, while experts sourced the latest turbine technology to help reduce the visual footprint of the site.

Colin added: “By sourcing turbines that are only slightly higher, but significantly more efficient, we can reduce the number on site, while still producing the majority of the energy.

“As a result of the improved efficiency, we will be able to deliver an enhanced community fund. We are still putting together those details and hope to put them to the local community within a few weeks.”

Ard Ghaoth Windfarm straddles two farms – both owned by local families – to the north east of Drymen. The 10 proposed turbines would each be 115 metres tall – a 15 metre increase on those previously proposed.

The company hopes the “balance of a low impact development and a compelling community partnering package” will allow the plans to win approval from Stirling Council’s planners when the application and associated environmental statement are submitted.

Banks Renewables will host a number of public exhibitions leading up to the submission of a planning application. The exhibitions will include visualisations showing exactly how the updated wind farm would look in the landscape.

Janey Fleming is a member of Gartmore Community Council, one of seven community councils being consulted by Banks Renewables.

She said: “After a shaky start when we were missed from a leaflet drop, Banks Renewables has dealt fairly with us and has listened to the concerns expressed and tried to accommodate them in the latest designs.”

Banks Renewables say the multi-million pound project would create up to 50 direct jobs through the development and construction phases.

Details of the public exhibitions are being finalised and will be announced shortly.

Anyone with queries about the scheme should contact the Banks Renewables’ community relations team on 0191 378 6100 or via enquiries@banksgroup.co.uk.