Planners have refused permission for a wind farm of six turbines north of New Cumnock following a stormy meeting.
There was a clash when a speaker in favour of the site asked why letters of support had been deemed “too late” while an objection made within a similar time scale was allowed.
The application by Peel Energy was for a development on land at Garleffan which was knocked back on several counts, including an objection from NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services).
During the lively two-hour session of East Ayrshire Council planning committee on Friday, October 21, objectors clashed with the representatives of the applicants as each argued their case.
Keeping firm control of proceedings was committee chairman, Ballochmyle councillor Jim Roberts, who invited senior planning officer, David Wilson, to relay comprehensive details on the application.
He showed a series of images which showed how the turbines would look from various locations, including the A76 east of New Cumnock, from Boyd Road and a viewpoint north of the village.
Three community councils had objected – Cumnock, New Cumnock and Cronberry/Logan/Lugar, as well as NATS and RSPB, with a total of 12 letters received.
Among the organisations in favour of the development were Netherthird Community Council and Nith District Salmon Fisheries Board, while Sorn Community Council had no objections.
There had also been 90 letters in favour, but as 78 of them were received well outwith the statutory application period, they were disregarded.
Steven Snowdon, Peel Energy’s development manager, queried why the letters of support were not taken into account, but a late letter of objection from New Cumnock Community Council was accepted.
If they had been taken into account this would represent an eight-to-one ratio of supporter over objectors, despite that fact that it later emerged that the letters had been pre-written with only two versions sent, all bearing people’s details and signatures.
Mr Wilson said: “The 78 letters of support were received months after the responding period. It is standard procedure to ignore these unless there is a good reason such as holidays or sickness.
“When the community council realised that they had not responded in time, they asked if they could do so as it had been a genuine mistake that it was thought that the response had been sent. Given that they are the closest community council to the site, this was also accepted.”
Mr Roberts asked Mr Snowdon: “What emphasis do you place on the views of community councils as there is a statutory requirement to consult them?”
He replied: “They do not speak for every member of the community and there is always discord between members. How much weight their views hold, I cannot comment, but I do agree that they are statutory consultees.”
Scottish National Heritage had no objections, subject to the imposition of a number of planning conditions in relation to nationally protected species and landscape matters.
NATS is against the windfarm, consisting of six turbines up to 135m high, as they had identified an unacceptable technical impact on their operations.
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