Campaigners are celebrating the scrapping of plans for three wind farms in southern Scotland as a turning point in the battle to preserve the country’s natural landscape.
Local activists have managed to halt three developments all within a few miles of each other in the Dumfries and Galloway hills.
The Scottish government dismissed two appeals from energy providers to build turbines near the village of Corsock, while another project was withdrawn from nearby Loch Urr. The appeals were lodged after the initial plans were rejected by Dumfries and Galloway council. Save Our Hills, a local campaign group, feared 43 turbines would dominate the area’s scenery as the three wind farms “joined up as one”.
Now Iain Milligan, the group’s spokesman, has said the government’s “courageous decisions” should encourage other campaigners in different parts of the country.
The Mochrum Fell appeal included plans to build seven 150-metre turbines on the hills by Corsock.
Italian-based Falck Renewables had made the initial bid in October 2020 but the government rejected it last Monday after the local council failed to rule on the application.
Energiekontor, a German-owned firm, had also bid to erect nine turbines on nearby Garcrogo Hill, a proposal blocked by ministers earlier in August.
At the beginning of September, Vattenfall withdrew its proposal for the Whiteneuk wind farm, around the Loch Urr area north of Corsock.
The Swedish-owned energy company had initially planned for 35 turbines but refined this figure to 27 following local feedback and a review of environmental data earlier this year. The appeal is currently on hold after Vattenfall failed to secure land required for its habitat management plan.
Milligan said: “All three of these proposals were unsuitable and unnecessary – people in the area will be hugely relieved to have seen them off.
“Dumfries and Galloway is at saturation point with onshore wind farms, and we’re all glad that common sense is beginning to prevail.
“All three of these proposals would have resulted in wind farms which were so close to each other they would have all but joined up as one. This ought to serve as a turning point for decision-makers to start pursuing other forms of renewable energy.”
He continued: “The impact these enormous turbines have on rural settings is far too great, wreaking havoc with tourism, business, wildlife and the unspoilt scenery.
“Given the pressure applied by the renewables sector and other vested interests, these were courageous decisions by the Scottish government.
“It’s important that other campaigners in different parts of the country take heart from this as it shows that these massive and extremely wealthy companies can be defeated.”
The campaigners’ encouragement follows a set back for villagers of Rosehall and Lairg, Sutherland. Last week Scotland’s wilderness watchdog withdrew an objection to an onshore wind farm proposed by SSE Renewables.
NatureScot rules the land is no longer wild due to the amount of turbines there already. There are several appeals to build in the area.
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