South Ayrshire councillors blew hard against wind power last week as they refused two turbines in quick succession.
The council’s Regulatory Panel for Planning heard applications for two single turbines proposed for separate farms in Colmonell and Ballantrae on Thursday – both with ambitions to carry on family farming through the benefits of each respective structure.
David McCutcheon of Boghouse Farm, Colmonell – a fourth generation farmer on the Rowantree Street site to the northwest of the village – said economic circumstances had forced him to diversify, and he believed a single wind turbine of 70 metres to blade tip would be a comparatively unobtrusive means of doing so.
He said the turbine, should it be consented, could be used to help educate local schoolchildren, and the money generated put towards community initiatives such as sustaining a village shop, or upgrading the play-park.
He urged the panel to take into account the benefits the turbine would bring “not only to our family, but to the local community in Colmonell.”
For fellow farmer Robert Stevenson his application for a single turbine of 27.1m to blade tip was a second attempt, having had an application for two turbines of more than one and a half times that height refused by the panel in the autumn.
Mr Stevenson’s agent, Katrina McLaughlin, said with modernisation the farm’s energy needs had increased substantially and were unable to be served without a significant upgrade of local facilities by Scottish Power – which the provider had no immediate intentions of undertaking.
“This is more than just a turbine to the family,” she said. “It is the difference between them having to diversify from dairy farming, or potentially having to move, as at the moment Mr Stevenson and his sons are not able to run the farm as it is intended to be run.”
However the panel remained unswayed by the applicants’ arguments, with one councillor even declaring their pleas “emotional blackmail”.
Troon councillor Nan MacFarlane condemned the two representations in this manner, stating with regard to Mr McCutcheon’s application: “This is a very scenic and tourist area and I find it totally unacceptable that an application of this size should come before us.”
Her colleague, Ayr’s Ian Douglas, added his belief that the turbine would not be justified in the proposed location.
Councillor Douglas also had views on Mr Stevenson’s plans, claiming the farmer had told “a good story”, but that an electric generator would be required regardless of a turbine being constructed – for days on which the wind does not comply with cows’ milking times.
Maybole councillor Ann Galbraith dismissed Mr Stevenson’s need for electricity as immaterial to planning legislation, and recalling his previous application said the issue had “just been thrown into the pot” that morning.
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