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Green light for site at High Glenmuir after protesters no-show at planning meeting

Protestors failed to show up at a planning meeting as permission for a wind turbine near Lugar was granted.

Approval was given by the planning committee at East Ayrshire Council when it was apparent that a hearing was unnecessary due to the absence of anyone against the proposal.

There had been 14 objections to the development of a 62m (203ft) high turbine at High Glenmuir, which is 3.5km east of Lugar, just off the A70 at Dornal.

Owner of the farm land where it will be built is John Lancaster, who said it would allow improvements at the farm, including an upgraded shed for livestock.

Implementation officer for the project, David McDowall, told the meeting that 16 representations had been submitted – 14 against and two for the turbine.

None of the organisations consulted had any issues with the plans, with environmental health, Prestwick Airport and Ayrshire Roads Alliance among those responding.

Of the objections, there were 13 from members of the public and one from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, who were concerned the installation would disturb birds and bats in nearby woodland.

Comments in favour of the turbine were that it would bring economic benefits and allow for farm diversification as well as providing a modest addition to the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets.

Among the objections was the detrimental visual impact on the area, particularly the cumulative effects with existing opencast coal operations.

Another said that the area was used for recreation and birdwatchers, as there was an abundance of birdlife, and a high moving structure would be out of place and disturb the landscape.

Other concerns included ice build-up on the blades which could injure someone using the adjacent public right-of-way and that the scale of the turbine is inappropriate for the site.

Councillor Tom Cook raised his own concerns that the blade tip would be just 8m (26ft) from the ground, and that moving at speeds up to 100mph, may affect cattle or any people who wander too close.

Mr McDowall said that a condition of granting the application would be that a fence is put up around the site, with the distance to be decided by planners.

Chairman of the planning committee, Jim Roberts, said he had made a site visit to see for himself the cumulative visual effect because of the proximity to open-casts, Leigh Glenmuir and Duncanziemere. However, he felt that the issue did not manifest, while some older dwellings in the area were in such a condition that they could be classed as ruins, so the effect on those was also negligible.

One argument against the plans was that there was no business plan for the farm diversification aspect, but this was also rejected by the committee who said they had no concerns as, although the developer would be taking maximum profit, the farmer would be getting rental payments.

Further support for the project was the prospect of employment for local contractors for the initial construction, as well as maintenance of the turbine throughout its lifetime.

The committee approved the application, adding that the development was ‘in accordance with the adopted local plan and material considerations do not indicate the application should be refused’.