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Ard Ghaoth windfarm on hold  

Credit:  by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday | www.stirlingobserver.co.uk 18 May 2012 ~~

Plans for a controversial windfarm near Drymen are being put on hold.

But developers insist the move does not mean they are pulling out of the project.

Banks Renewables told the Observer proposals to submit a planning application for its Ard Ghaoth windfarm are being delayed after tests have shown unexpected results.

The company has outlined plans for 10 turbines at the site, which would generate up to 20MW, enough to meet the annual electricity requirements of 11,100 homes.

However, the company has “temporarily” delayed further progress with the planning application, so it can carry out more detailed wind analysis at the site.

Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables said: “We want to take more time gathering and analysing wind data at the site, because the first few months’ worth of information collected has thrown up some surprises.

“Effectively we are seeing wind speeds during this early stage in monitoring which are lower than we expected and deviate from the estimates by independent experts based on available data from the nearest wind farms and met office stations and what we see generally in Scotland.

“We take great pride in our development with care philosophy and in light of these unexpected findings, we want to do the responsible thing. In this case, that means putting the planning submission on hold while we investigate further.

“We remain committed to the site and once we have more detailed information available to us we look forward to continuing with the development.

“In the meantime, we will be delaying a series of planned public exhibitions, though our team on the ground will remain in close contact with members of the local community.”

The team at Banks Renewables erected a 60 feet high wind mast, complete with wind data monitoring equipment, at the Ard Ghaoth site in December 2011 and will continue wind monitoring for at least another year to build up a complete picture of the wind resource.

To estimate wind speed on a site developers use a variety of independent sources, including current data from surrounding wind farm sites, information from NOABL – a source of national wind speed data – as well as Met Office data.

Hamilton-based Banks Renewables says it will continue to provide regular updates to the community as it gathers more information over the coming months.

Colin Anderson added: “We are proud to be helping the Scottish Government meet its renewable energy targets, while also helping to sustain local communities and local businesses. We remain extremely hopeful our Ard Ghaoth site will be part of that.”

The Ard Ghaoth proposal has, however, been the subject of increasing controversy.

The developers and supporters say the windfarm will contribute to the Scottish Government’s drive towards producing all the energy consumed in the country through renewable means, and the development will be built and operated responsibly, with the visual impact kept to a minimum.

Objectors, however, strongly disagree.

Campaign group EVAG (Endrick Valley Action Group), which successfully fought a proposed windfarm by Npower Renewables at Ballindalloch Muir near Balfron, reformed to protest against the Ard Ghaoth proposals.

The group claims: the impact on an area famed for its natural beauty would be huge; the site is next to the national park and the turbines would be visible from the West Highlands, the Wallace Monument and the Lake of Menteith, among other significant attractions; and that villages dependent on tourism could be adversely impacted.

Source:  by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday | www.stirlingobserver.co.uk 18 May 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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