Monday, 15 August 2011

Straid wind farm # 1

This is the first post regarding an embryonic wind farm application for Straid Farm, South Ayrshire. If you hadn't heard anything about this, it is probably because the developers have only just submitted their Pre Application Notice to South Ayrshire Council.

This development is for up to 16 turbines, 99.5 metres tall (or 326 feet in old money). The distance between the A77 and the nearest turbine in the current proposal is just 350 metres. The precise number of turbines and their exact location have not yet been decided; indeed, as of the time of posting, the meteorlogical mast hasn't even been installed. However, in the interests of letting people know what is going on, I thought I would post some pictures showing the location of this proposed development. All of these pictures were taken by myself, from the side of Pinbain Hill, immediately to the North of Straid Farm approximately 150 feet from the summit.

Right, to help you get your bearings, the first image shows the A77 leading into Lendalfoot, looking from North to South:

The important thing about this image is that, as the proposal stands, the left hand edge of the image is almost exactly the Western boundary of the proposed development site. So, if you looked to your left (to the East) from here, you would see the turbines.

Now the next image is (as far as I could manage) in the same vertical plane, also looks south and starts more or less immediately to the left (or West) of the previous image:

Now, think of this image as being divided into horizontal stripes. The first stripe is the long grass at the bottom of the picture, and can be ignored. The next stripe contains a fairly bright green strip of grass with some sheep on it. We'll call this zone 1. The next stripe is the darker segment of grass, that extends from the edge of zone 1 and ends just before the land-fill site (that grey sort of hillock bit just up from the centre of the frame) just up from the centre of the image. We'll call that zone 2. Eveything else in the image is in zone 3 and can be ignored. Now, the right hand edge of both zones 1 and 2 are where the turbines are proposed to start. From here, they extend Eastwards (to the left) across this frame:

continuing all the way along to a point roughly in line with Barchlewan. I didn't bother taking anymore pictures, these are quite sufficient to show that this development will absolutely dominate the Lendal valley.

Now, there are some important points about the potential cumulative impact here. First of all, have another look at the image above. The patch of dark green forest that can be seen on the top left horizon is the Knockbain plantation leading into Breaker Hill. Breaker Hill wind farm is currently under consideration by South Ayrshire Council for a 15 turbine development (see the link on the right hand side of this page entitled Breaker Hill under Current Planning Links), with a maximum blade height of over 300 feet. The sharp eyed amongst you may have spied something else. Look again at the image above, and particularly at the horizon on the right hand side of the image.  It is difficult to see, but if we zoom in a little, we get this:

Sitting just behind Knockdaw is the Northern boundary or Arechleoch, a 60 turbine development currently under construction stretching into Dumfries and Galloway. Now, because the camera actually does lie on occasions, I had to zoom in to get the size of the turbines about correct. But, I think the picture is quite clear. Don't forget, you need to imagine Straid's contribution to this overall image to get the full potential impact.

Just to make things really clear on the potential cumulative impact front, lets take a virtual tour along the A77 starting at the summit of Bennane Hill (that's the big hill immediately to the North of Ballantrae along the A77), imagining we are tourists having just got off the ferry at Cairnryan and are heading North. We will also assume Breaker Hill wind farm and Straid wind farm have been built. Now, if we look to the right, we see, err, Arecleoch wind farm. If we're quick, we'll also get a glimpse of Breaker Hill wind farm off to our right, and to the left is the famous Sawney Bean's cave. Now, just as we start to come down the northern face of Bennane Hill, straight ahead we have err,  Straid wind farm. Also located at Straid Farm, you'll find the landfill site. Moving very swiftly along....... Welcome to South Ayrshire.

Now to be fair, I must reiterate the Breaker Hill wind farm planning application has not been approved, and the wind farm most certainly hasn't been built. Straid wind farm has not even reached the planning application stage, so it really is embryonic. However, we must not loose sight of the potential bigger picture.

What's to be done? Well, if you have views on the Straid wind farm proposal or just want to find out more, the developers are holding an open exhibition at the Lendalfoot community hall on August 30th, starting at 4PM and going on 'till 8PM. A second exhibition is planned at Colmonell Community hall on August 31, again starting at 4PM and going on 'till 8PM. So, why not go along and make your feelings known, or see what the latest and greatest version of the proposal contains.