SSE’s appeal to Scottish Ministers regarding a two year extension to their turbine development resulted in North Ayrshire Council being no longer able to determine the application.
At last Wednesday’s planning committee meeting, the committee were instead asked to form an opinion on the merits of the case, to form the basis of the council’s evidence, to be presented to the Scottish Ministers.
The committee unanimously refused to back the application due to it being ‘contrary to planning policy’ and inappropriate in design and scale to its surroundings
Further reasons for the refusal included that the location was within an area designated as high sensitivity in the landscape capacity study for windfarm development in North Ayrshire, and it had a ‘detrimental impact on the built and natural historic character of Hunterston Castle, Hunterston House and impact on views from the Historic Gardens and Designed Landscape at Kelburn Castle’.
SSE wished to extend the operational time period of the National Offshore Wind Turbine Testing Facility until 14 October 2019.
Concerns about the infrasound (low frequency noise) emanating from one of the turbines in relation to ‘ill health’ were raised by a total of 17 residents in Fairlie and Cumbrae. Rita Holmes of Fairlie Community Council made the committee aware the Dr John Yelland, Independent acoustician, was present to answer any questions about infrasound and requested that the committee recommend the application is rejected as it is the responsibility of SSE to prove they are safe, not of residents to prove the contrary. SSE weren’t in attendance.
The planning committee requested, given the representations from the local community that Scottish Ministers be requested when determining the appeal to satisfy themselves that the development is not impacting detrimentally on the health of local residents.
The controversial application has received objections from both Fairlie and West Kilbride community councillors.
The application for the extension was first considered at the meeting of the Planning Committee on 8 March.
The committee agreed to continue the application to a future meeting to allow a further background noise survey to be carried out by the applicant.
However, at the next meeting in June, the applicant had been unable to carry out the re-measurement of background noise, leading to a further extension until September.
However, applicants SSE put in an appeal to the Scottish Government earlier this month, meaning the council could not make a final decision, and instead, it is only an opinion which will be considered by Scottish ministers.
A spokesperson for SSE said: “Last week North Ayrshire Council (NAC) held a meeting to form their response to The Planning and Environmental Appeals Division on the time extension appeal submitted by SSE in July to the Scottish Government for their Hunterston Offshore Wind Turbine Test Facility.
“SSE is disappointed that NAC believe that that the appeal should be refused.
“As the only functioning onshore test facility for offshore wind turbines in the UK,
“Hunterston has delivered a number of benefits for the industry and local community and a time extension would allow the site to complete important testing on offshore wind turbines.
“SSE remains fully committed to the project and awaits the outcome of the appeal submitted to the Scottish Government, expected in October 2017.”
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