Residents in the Barrachan area of the Machars were faced with a shock on the horizon when they glanced outside last week only to find a 70-metre wind monitoring mast nearby.
The towering mast behind Barrachan Hill, one of two in the pipeline to be erected by EDF Energy Renewables to assess wind speeds with the presumption that a wind farm could follow, has angered residents who claim they were kept in the dark about it and have had to dig up information on it since.
Andrew Shiells, of Barrachan Home Farm, is angered that no planning notice was sent to him or his neighbours, who have joined forces to oppose any progression of a wind farm.
He was told the only notification required to be given by Dumfries and Galloway Council was a listing in The Galloway Gazette’s planning applications section, which was published in March when he was out of the country. He also said the location on the application is so far from Barrachan that no-one could have picked up on it.
He said: “Apparently, without anyone nearby being notified directly, ‘temporary planning permission’ has been obtained for this tower for three years.
“The idea is that a wind farm could be centred on the tower, meaning it could creep west towards Barrachan village.”
The mast has gone up 300 yards from the back of Mr Shiells’s property and, when he checked the planning documents online, he found it to have been entered under the name “Flow of Airriequhillart”, which, he says, is an area of unihabited grazing land and forest some distance from Barrachan. He said: “This land is owned by a man who lives in Oxfordshire and who leases it out for grazing. He comes up every so often to shoot on it.
“He doesn’t care about what’s going up here, and he didn’t even think to let us know – he didn’t even inform close family of his who live nearby.”
Low-flying jets use the area en route to Luce Bay and in the original planning documents, the MOD states it would have concerns if the plans develop into a wind farm.
Mr Shiells and his neighbours also have issues with use of the term “meteorological mast” which, he said, suggests weather forecasting. He added: “No wonder this didn’t register on any of our radars.”
The next phase in the development, after the erection of the second mast granted permission, would be a scoping exercise in the local area to gauge public opinion on the proposal of a wind farm which could begin in a year.
A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesperson said: “Neighbour notification is now a statutory duty when a valid planning application is made. Where there are premises upon which postal notification can be served within 20 metres of an application site, the council is required to notify these third parties.
“Where there is land without premises to which postal neighbour notification can be served within 20 metres of an application, an advert is placed in the local press.”
n The Scottish Government has been blasted for approving an 11-turbine wind farm around Glenluce and New Luce. The proposal was originally refused by councillors.
MSP Alex Fergusson said: “Officials, backed by councillors, took the informed view this proposal was in appropriate. The Scottish government is overriding local democracy.”
And MP Russell Brown said: “For the second time in a few months, the Scottish government has ignored the decision of the local council and railroaded through another wind farm that isn’t wanted.”