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More turbines proposed for the Stewartry

The controversial Stewartry windfarm saga blew up again this week with the unveiling of plans for another 23 massive turbines.

Protesters said the proposals showed a “woeful disregard” for the area.

But the companies behind the developments, one of three and the other of 20 turbines, all of which will be more than 100 metres high, insist their plans are based on feedback and co-operation with local communities.

REG Windpower, behind the smaller operation at Chapman’s Howe between Castle Douglas and Kirkcudbright, pointed out that it trimmed its original plan on the advice of local people by cutting one turbine and lopping seven metres off the height of the remaining three.

And Burcote Wind, which aims to put up 20 at Longburn, east of Carsphairn – all 137 metres from blade tip to ground – maintains it has worked closely with local people to develop a draft business plan outlining how community fund income could be spent.

The arguments cut little ice with opponents who are certain to protest at the planning stage.

Rae Leigh, who set up TW312 with Keith Mycock, believes the Chapman’s Howe application shows a “woeful disregard” towards Stewartry residents.

The campaigner said: “TW312 and local residents are disappointed to see the submission of yet another inappropriate proposal for this locality.

“The Dumfries and Galloway Wind Farm Landscape Capacity Study advises that turbines of 100m to tip are not suitable for this site.

“The submission of this planning application by REG Windpower shows a woeful disregard for local people and the council’s concerns to have in place a fair policy. The offer to return a small portion of consumers’ money by way of community benefits is a disgraceful way to bribe and silence the community.”

But Jim Wood, REG Windpower’s development manager, said: “We have worked hard to design a scheme capable of generating a significant quantity of much-needed renewable energy while limiting the effects on the local environment.

“The community fund associated with Chapman’s Howe could bring real benefits to the area and we look forward to hearing ideas from local residents as to how this money could be spent.”

The developers claim the site could power nearly 5,000 homes and generate close to £1 million for local projects.

Burcote argues their development could power more than 40,000 homes and generate as much as £9 million for local projects over its lifetime.

And they have challenged the well-used claim that windfarms destroy the tourism business by suggesting the project has the potential to support the region as well as create skills, generate jobs and significant economic opportunities.

Chairman Graham Brown said: “We’ve been delighted with the ideas, advice and feedback of local people regarding our Longburn windfarm proposal, all of which have helped shape the planning application we have now submitted.

“We have worked very hard over the past 12 months to understand the needs and concerns of the local community in Carsphairn and the surrounding area.

“This has fed directly into the final layout and draft community development business plan accompanying the application.

“We’ve spoken to a broad range of individuals and local groups to get their suggestions and input.

“This has included working closely with the local heritage group to explore how the archaeological heritage adjacent to the windfarm can be protected and made more of a feature of interest for visitors to the area, as part of the development.”

The community benefit fund, he said, could produce £360,000 per year over the 25-year lifetime of the wind farm.