It is a village so steeped in natural beauty and history that residents are not even allowed solar panels on their homes.
Set in a valley in the rolling Ayrshire countryside, Straiton dates back to 1760 and has been proudly resistant to the fads and fashions of the 21st century.
But now its 200 inhabitants have become embroiled in a very modern dispute over plans to erect 119 wind turbines on the hills above the village as part of the SNP’s relentless pursuit of renewable energy sources.
They have enlisted the support of Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson, a prominent anti-wind farm campaigner who visited the village yesterday to back their campaign to stop five wind farms being erected on the nearby Galloway Hills.
The turbines would stand higher than the London Eye, creating a ‘ring of steel’ around Straiton and dwarfing the historic monument on Highgate Hill to Crimean War hero Lieutenant-Colonel James Hunter Blair.
Yet wind farms are ineffective and will result in higher energy bills for local people, Mr Stevenson told a meeting in Straiton yesterday. He said: ‘These things are useless, costly and, because they don’t work properly, you have to rely on a back-up from fossil-fuel plants. It’s not a local issue, it’s a national issue. In my book, Straiton is in the top ten most beautiful villages in Scotland. It’s ruinous. It is so, so wrong. And once you’ve got the first turbine then you’ve lost – it’s all downhill from there.
‘If we dig up the ground and put in thousands of tons of concrete then we can never re-establish an area like that.
‘The one sector doing hugely well at the moment is renewable energy, so immediately you have a David and Goliath battle. They have endless amounts of cash to try and crush you.’
Mr Stevenson has already lodged a formal objection to the plans with South Ayrshire Council and intends to reiterate his complaint following his visit to the conservation village.
The area is so picturesque that nearby Blairquhan Castle was chosen as a substitute for Balmoral in the film The Queen, starring Dame Helen Mirren. It is also being considered by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization for ‘biosphere’ status as an outstanding natural landscape.
The five proposed wind farms are Linfairn, from Willowind Energy; Dalmorton, from PNE Wind UK; Glenmount, from RWE npower renewables; Dersalloch, from ScottishPower; and Sclenteuch, from RES UK.
The villagers only found out about the proposals in January, but have already raised £7,000 for their fighting fund. At a community council meeting, 107 people voted against the scheme and none was in favour. Save Straiton f or Scotland chairman Biil Steven, 54, said: ‘These developers have been working on their proposals for years. Then, when they hit us with it, we have only 28 days to respond.’
Lawyer and mother-of-two Whirly Marshall, 34, who has lived in the village for five years, said: ‘The irony is you’re not even allowed to have solar panels or dormer windows on the roofs of houses here, yet these turbines would be as high as the clouds.
‘Our problems with this are the effect on the landscape, on people’s health and people’s house prices. My home has lost around £100,000 in value.’
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