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Picturesque village is facing wind farm ‘catastrophe’

Residents of a picturesque village claim they are facing a “national catastrophe” after learning of plans for five separate wind farms that would “surround” their community.

The villagers of Straiton in South Ayrshire have launched a campaign against the projects, which they say have reduced residents to tears and would devastate an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson said the village, in the heart of the Galloway Forest Park, had survived as an exemplar of Scotland’s unique rural heritage for over 250 years and was “packed with a dazzling array of flora and fauna”.

He added: “However, the area is now under imminent threat from wind farm developers. Separate plans from five different companies, if allowed to go ahead, would see the village encircled in a virtual ring of steel, which would devastate the local environment and put the villagers’ way of life in peril.”

The Save Straiton for Scotland group, which was set up last month, said that if all the projects were approved the village would be surrounded by almost 130 giant turbines.

There is also opposition in the nearby communities of Kirkmichael, Crosshill, Patna and Dalmellington.

The group hopes to raise 60,000 pounds to allow it to employ planning, landscape and sound experts to help fight the planning applications.

Bill Steven, who chairs the campaign, told The Daily Telegraph: “Not everyone is against wind generation, but they have to be strategically placed across Scotland. This is one of the beauty spots of Ayrshire, but it could be overlooked by a bank of wind turbines.

“We are at the centre of a wind rush and I think what we are facing is unique in Scotland.”

Mr Steven, the retired managing director of Scottish & Universal Newspapers, added that Straiton, with a population of around 200, had its own school, pub, church and community hall and was not interested in the community funds offered by the developers.

He has sent two emails to Alex Salmond, the First Minister, seeking his “help and advice”, and said he had received an acknowledgement, but not yet a response.

Dersalloch wind farm, under two miles from the village, a ScottishPower Renewables application, would have 23 turbines up to 410ft high. It has been approved by the local planning authority and is awaiting approval by ministers.

The Linfairn project, by WilloWind Energy, would see 25 turbines built and is waiting for a planning decision from South Ayrshire Council.

Three other projects, the 33-turbine Sclenteuch scheme, 26-turbine Glenmount scheme and 19-turbine Dalmorton proposal, are at an earlier stage.

The proposals have prompted an angry response from local residents on the Save Straiton for Scotland website.

Carol Watt, from Kirkmichael, wrote: “It’s the noise that can continue day and night. The noise that can drain people of all will to live. Their homes are no longer the safe haven they should be, their homes that lose their value and become impossible to sell.”

A spokesman for WilloWind Energy said it was committed to meaningful consultation and as a result of feedback from the community had cut the number of turbines planned from 29 to 25, which would keep them all more than 1.25 miles (2km) from homes.

He added: “We believe this will counter the main issues of concern with this proposal. It is also a clear endorsement of our pledge to listen to the views of the community in determining the final shape of our planning application to South Ayrshire Council.

“In addition to generating significant amounts of renewable energy, which would make a major contribution towards meeting Scotland’s renewable targets, this project would also bring a range of other benefits to the local area, from new jobs and commercial opportunities for local businesses through to funding for a range of community benefits