By Victoria Allen | Scottish Daily Mail | 18 February 2013 |
It is a row that has pitted a tiny village against the might of some of the biggest players in the wind energy industry.
The community of Straiton, in Ayrshire, has found itself under siege from no fewer than five separate wind farm developers, seeking to encircle it with 130 turbines.
The proposals have been met with shock and defiance by families in the unspoilt country village.
The community of just over 200 has already raised a fighting fund of more than £2,000 to pay for planning and landscape experts to shoot down the plans.
Locals say the turbines will devastate the village – slashing house prices, ruining the landscape and destroying their much-prized peace and quiet.
Bill Steven, chairman of the campaign group Save Straiton for Scotland, compared his village to the Klondike, the Canadian region that was overrun during the 19th century Gold Rush.
He said: ‘We are the new Klondike – except they are chasing subsidies now, not gold. But the wind farm companies will realise they can’t come in, bring a village to its knees and change it overnight.
‘It may be a David and Goliath fight but they have picked the wrong place and we will give them a run for their money, that’s for sure.’
Straiton has remained untouched since houses were first built there in the 18th century. The village’s beauty is such that it was picked as a backdrop in the film the Queen, which used Blairquhan Castle as a replacement for Balmoral.
Currently, the closest wind farm is 14 miles away in the village of Barr. But the proposals would see Straiton almost surrounded by wind turbines reaching up to the height of the London Eye and visible from miles around.
Residents were in tears at a community council meeting to discuss the plans earlier this month and 103 voted unanimously to fight the turbines.
Community councillor Henry Anderson said: ‘People are really upset about this. I know, having spoken to my estate agent, that £30,000 will be knocked off the price of my house if these wind farms go ahead.
‘We have more than 1,000 visitors a year to the village, which is a cycling destination, and people are worried they will disappear, too.’
The five wind farms are Linfairn, which is planned by Willowind Energy; Dersalloch, from Scottish Power; Sclenteuch, from RES UK; Glenmount from RWE npower renewables; and Dalmorton, which was put forward by PNE Wind UK.
Sclenteuch is expected to be the first to receive a decision after being passed to planners at South Ayrshire Council this month. A planning application from Linfairn is likely to come next.
Dersalloch has been turned down by the council but was appealed and is currently being considered by the Scottish Government.
If all five get the green light, a ring of 130 turbines will be built in the hills around Straiton.
Campaigners have produced a map, reproduced here by the Scottish Daily Mail, although only the exact locations of Desalloch and Linfairn are certain before applications are filed.
Whirly Marshall, 34, mother of four-year-old Rory and Lara, two, is one of several who have vowed to leave the village if permission is given for the wind farms.
She said: ‘I would take the hit over the money we would almost certainly lose on the house.
‘There is research that the low-frequency noises from wind turbines cause problems for children in terms of concentration and difficulty sleeping. I wouldn’t want to risk that for my children.’
Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson has backed the villagers opposing the turbines.
In a video on the Save Straiton for Scotland website, he says the ‘giant industrial wind farms’ would have a ‘catastrophic effect’ on one of the most beautiful areas in the country.
The campaign has split the community, however, because farmers living there have accepted offers for turbines on their land.
Martha McWhirter, who owns Linfairn Farm with husband John, said: ‘ We have done this as an investment for our family. I do understand the ill-feeling about five applications but I think the turbines are too far from the village to affect anyone else.
‘There are incomers and people with second homes complaining about this but they play little part in the village community.’
Jennifer Webster, director of external affairs at Renewable UK, which represents the wind energy sector, said: ‘ As part of the planning process, wind farms have to undergo very detailed assessments which take into account impacts on the locality.
‘It’s important to remember that we consistently see public support levels of around 70 per cent for onshore wind in Scotland.’
Willowind Energy and PNE Wind UK were unavailable for comment last night. RES UK said it was simply investigating the potential for its Sclenteuch wind farm and had not yet made a planning application.
URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/02/18/the-village-facing-a-ring-of-steel-from-130-wind-turbines/