A controversial wind mast was given the green light – despite fears it could spoil some of Ayrshire’s most scenic spots.
The 70-metre tall meteorological mast will be built south of Straiton, on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park, to monitor wind speed with a view to a future wind farm development.
Councillors expressed their concerns over the plan but were forced to pass it after admitting they could only decide on what was in front of them – not any future plans.
Objector Andrew Miller lives near the proposed site, and told South Ayrshire Council’s regulatory panel he feared it could “debase” the park area.
He said: “This proposal is not just another mast but a meterological mast with the prospect of a new wind energy development.
“A wind farm based around the mast location would destroy the wild life and threaten the integrity of the Galloway Forest Park.
“Any wind farm within the Forest Park would damage the whole land.”
Applicants Scottish Power Renewables had told the panel that the wind mast development was required before any discussions could start over a wind farm in the area.
Girvan and South Carrick Councillor Alec Clark also spoke to the panel on behalf of his constituents to opposte the development.
He said: “This, in itself seems to be a fairly innocuous application and in itself it wouldn’t do any damage.
“But it’s the advance party before the cavalry arrives. From the Dumfries and Galloway border right to north of Maybole, the communities of South Carrick have done their best to be champions of renewable energy but it’s time they went somewhere else.”
Councillors on the panel admitted that while they shared the concerns of the objectors, with the South Carrick area already home to various wind energy developments.
Councillor Ann Galbraith said: “Let’s not be kidded. If this is approved we’ll have another giant wind farm.”
And Councillor William Grant added: “At one stage the Scottish Government said there should be no more wind farms in that area.”
But panel chair Councillor Peter Convery said despite their concerns, the development had to be judged on its own.
He said: “I know this area very well. I’ve walked it, cycled it and swam in its lochs. We have in front of us an application for a 70 metre mast, and that’s all there is and that’s all you can decide on at this point in time.”
The application was approved by five votes to three.