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Decision taken on ‘giant windfarm’ plan after surprise local plan ‘contraventions’ revealed to meeting

A plan to erect a string of 150m high wind turbines between Largs and Skelmorlie has been rejected by council planners – after a meeting heard it breached TEN policies in the local development plan.

Rigghill Windfarm Ltd were looking to build 10 wind turbines with a maximum blade tip height of 149.9m approximately one kilometre south east of Skelmorlie.

But protestors finally won their battle to have the proposal scrapped after a two-hour planning meeting on Monday.

Skelmorlie Community Council chairman Helen Boyle pleaded with councillor to refuse the application.

She said: “The turbines are nearly 500ft in height and due to the low frequency noise and would be a health hazard to our village and surrounding area. The view is beautiful, why spoil it?”

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch, said he felt turbines of this size should be kept away from populated areas.

He added: “The development would be far too close to Skelmorlie.

“Any alteration of the landscape on the Red Road would have a detrimental effect on the local environment, residents, wildlife and the general appearance of an extremely beautiful location.”

Fraser Campbell, of applicants Burcote Wind renewables, said the development had the potential to power ‘half of North Ayrshire’.

He told the meeting: “It is our belief that Rigghill is the right development in the right place and would power 35,000 UK households – roughly half the households in the local authority.

“North Ayrshire Council have declared a climate emergency. Scotland world lead climate legislation for net zero emissions by 2045, and renewable energy will have a significant role to play in meeting any climate change objectives.

“It is the most cost effective renewable energy technology and green electricity generation.”

Melvin Grosvenor, of the UK Independent Noise Working Group, also addressed the meeting and raised concerns.

He added: “The World Health Organisation has published guidance that stated further research is urgently needed into harm which is caused by infrasound from turbines.

“These are fundamentally offshore wind turbines which are certainly not suited to the close proximity to local residents proposed by the applicants.”

North Ayrshire planning chairman Tom Marshall said: “Given that we did all support the local development plan as a full council, I would think that we are duty bound to consider any contraventions to that in this application.”

Burcote argued that there was a precedent set by a turbine development in East Ayrshire at 220m tall.

A planning spokesperson added: “The operation of the development would not enhance, and potentially harm, tourism facilities.

“The proposal does not accord with the objectives of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park as an attractive visitor destination.”

Burcote argued that conditions could be implemented to assist with the road movements for construction via Routenburn Road – and said they didn’t believe Clyde Muirshiel would be affected from a tourism perspective.

There were also objections from Skelmorlie, Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride community councils that the application was ‘contradictory to the local development plan’ – with ten breaches cited.

The decision was taken to refuse the application, although Burcote have a right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers.