People who have objected to plans for two wind turbines at a hill farm in Shandon have been labelled “narrow minded and selfish” by a local access campaigner.
John Urquhart, who lives in Helensburgh and is a trustee of the Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust, says the proposal for Laigh Balernock farm will benefit the area – and accuses critics of the scheme of being motivated by “groundless fears” that the turbines might hit local property prices.
As reported previously in the Advertiser, Laigh Balernock farmer Robert Hamilton and his son, also Robert, are hoping to secure planning permission for two turbines, each 30.5 metres tall to the hub and 48 metres to the tip of the blade, with a combined generating capacity of 500 kilowatts a year.
Mr Urquhart said the plan to devote “community benefit” from the scheme to the Centre 81 community project in Garelochhead could have a positive effect on the area.
He told the Advertiser: “There is already a connection between the footpath network and Centre 81, whose hostel had become an important asset for the Three Lochs Way as a lot of the walkers were choosing to stay there”
“Unfortunately, I think that due to their funding problems, the hostel has had to close, all of which creates a strong argument in support of community benefit from the turbines going to Centre 81.
“None of this of course will be known to the narrow minded NIMBYs, whose misguided motivation most likely stems from groundless fears that the turbines will somehow diminish the value of their property.
“[This is] something I easily disproved last year by talking to an Ardrossan estate agent who said she had found no effect on property values in West Kilbride and Ardrossan, even though they are overlooked by a substantial wind farm.
“NIMBYs by definition don’t want to hear evidence like this, nor do they want to know about the interconnections which can help sustain ‘good stuff’ like Centre 81 and footpaths.
“They also don’t want to know about the importance of the contribution which wind power is making to reducing the input of CO2 into the atmosphere.”
At the time of writing, the application had attracted eight objections and seven expressions of support from the public.
Among the latest objectors are two members of Rhu and Shandon Community Council, Jim Duncan and Jean Cook, who say that 48-metre turbines exceed guidelines for wind turbine size in Argyll and Bute.
In his objection, Mr Duncan says the Argyll and Bute Landscape Wind Energy Capacity Study “recommends that turbines of up to only 20 metres should be considered for a location such as is proposed”.
Mr Duncan also says that a previous application for a 30-metre wind monitoring mast at the site, to be in place for a two year period, was only granted in March 2016, meaning the monitoring period is not yet complete – and that, in his words, the results from a 30-metre mast “would be irrelevant” for turbines of 48 metres.
Both Mr Duncan and Mrs Cook also point out that no information is given in the application on how the power generated by the turbines would be connected to the national grid.
The application has split opinion in the area, with Rhu and Shandon Community Council members objecting to the plans and Garelochhead Community Council offering its support.
In addition, the Ministry of Defence, Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, the National Air Traffic Service and the council’s own biodiversity officer all say they do not object
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