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Loch Urr met masts blasted by objectors

Countryside lovers are warning that a council decision to allow two temporary anemometer masts at Loch Urr is detrimental to the countryside and tourism.

The 80 metres high masts, supported by guy wires, will be in place for two years to measure windspeeds to the south and north of the unspoilt beautyspot, much-loved by walkers and hikers.

They are the precursors to an expected 50 turbines windfarm application for the future.

Members of the Planning Applications committee struggled with the application from E.ON Climate and Renewables with both separate proposals forcing polls. The plans, considered separately, each won approval by nine votes to five.

The southern mast will be erected around 300 metres to the west of a minor road connecting the A712 to the A702 and the other will be erected on rough grazing land 600 metres from a minor road connecting to the A702 to Dunscore.

Although no objections were raised by statutory bodies, the council received 41 individual letters of objection to the southern mast and 48 for the northern one.

A large number of people voiced their concerns at the meeting.

They argued that the masts would by an “unacceptable intrusion” in the secluded and natural landscape, raised concerns over the cumulative impact of the consented Blackcraig and Wether Hill wind farms and say it would have an “unacceptable impact” on wildlife and cultural tourism among other concerns.

Hugh Buck, of Penpont, told councillors that the idea of met masts at Loch Urr “fills me with horror!”

He said: “It would be detrimental to an area of outstanding natural beauty that is of major importance to tourism and home to several rare species of wildlife.”

William Crawford, of Dunscore, said he represented the 65 members of the Save Loch Urr Association in objecting to the masts.

He said:“It is one of the few wild places left in Dumfriesshire, the last piece of uncluttered moorland in east Dumfriesshire and any attempt to interfere with the visual impact of the landscape should be resisted. The two masts will stick out like a sore thumb.”

Caroline Pridham argued that a survey of 200 people around the Corsock area had “made it clear they are very unhappy for the push for met masts and windfarm.”

Councillors were told that the applications were for temporary met masts and not a windfarm at this stage.

Both were recommended for approval by officers.