Councillors are being urged to make a formal objection to the proposed Sanquhar Windfarm II development.
Scottish ministers, who will have the final say on the Community Windpower Limited project, are consulting with Dumfries and Galloway Council over the bid to erect 44 turbines on 2,728 hectares of land to the south west of the town.
Members of the authority’s planning applications committee will discuss the scheme on Thursday.
And the recommendation from council officials is to “raise objections on a number of grounds”.
Case officer Andrew Robinson said: “As the council is the local planning authority in this case, a decision to formally raise objection to this proposal would trigger a Public Local Inquiry.”
In his report to councillors, he states: “The proposed windfarm would be located in a landscape incapable of accommodating the development without an unacceptable level of significant and adverse detrimental landscape and visual impacts.”
He also said that the design and scale “is not appropriate to the scale and character of its setting,” and “would be at odds to the established windfarm pattern in the Southern Uplands taking in the Ken and Nith catchments.”
As well as being contrary to council policy, he said it would “exacerbate visual impacts within an already developed area of Upper Nithsdale which would fundamentally and disproportionately alter the experience of the landscape.”
An online petition urging Scottish ministers to throw out the windfarm plans has, so far, raised 1,096 signatures.
The page, run by Penpont’s Susan Hall, claims the development would have an “unacceptable landscape and visual impact”.
She said: “The windfarm is to take in Scaur Glen and, given we’re talking about some of the biggest turbines in Scotland here, there is clearly a risk that a large scenic area would be damaged.
“Sanquhar II will add to the increasing cumulative impact of existing and consented windfarms in an area considered to be very sensitive to turbines of greater than 150 metres. This is just too much and represents the wrong development in the wrong place.”
In the The council’s landscape architect for windfarms, Janet Swailes takes a similar view and has listed five main grounds for objection in the report to Thursday’s meeting
She said: “Sanquhar II would be an overbearing and prominent influence in the local and mid-range landscapes due to the scale of the turbines and windfarm spread, as well as introducing aviation lighting to the night sky in the Southern Uplands south of Upper Nithsdale.
“The day time effects of Sanquhar II are for the most part cumulative in nature as the scheme would tend to be seen and experienced in relation to operational or consented schemes.
“However, it is not the cumulative interactions alone that are most problematic, there would be some significant localised effects on the surrounding upland glens and valleys.”
The extensive site lies between Black Hill and Blacklord Hill south west of Sanquhar, and the Upper Scar Valley between Corse Hill and Blackcraig Hill, north west of Penpont.
The proposed development would be accessed via the existing private track which serves the operational Sanquhar windfarm.
It would take two years to build and have an operational life of 40 years.
Managing director of Community Windpower, Rod Wood, has told the council that he is “extremely disappointed” at the objections raised by the landscape architect.
He asks that “members are made aware of the fact that 13 of the last 17 windfarms have landscape objections many of which have been overturned by members at committee or on appeal”.
Mr Wood insists “the temporary landscape loss over the next 40 years is more than outweighed by the economic, social, environmental and Covid green recovery investment made in Dumfries and Galloway,” and the “investment of £336m into the Scottish and Dumfries and Galloway economy with the creation of 200 jobs is a material planning consideration”.
Mr Wood said the windfarm “will contribute in excess of £6m annually” within the region and they have plans to create a £1m 3G pitch in Sanquhar.
He added: “In addition, community benefits of £625,000 will be paid annually to local communities.”
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