Thursday, 13 October 2011

Breaker Hill wind farm # 4

Thud. The sound that the planner's report for the proposed wind farm at Breaker Hill made as it landed on my desk earlier today. Some two years after submission of the planning application, we now have a recommendation. I had already been emailed a few hours before with the recommendation - so it was no suprise when I opened the envelope and saw on the front page of the report:

Recommendation: REFUSAL.

Now, don't get me wrong - this is fantastic news. However, we shouldn't jump the gun. Although a pretty devastating opening salvo, this is simply the planning officer's recommendation; the actual decision still has to be made by the regulatory panel on Thursday October 27, 2011 and we should NOT preempt the outcome of that. Additionally, should the panel refuse the application the developer will doubtless be afforded the right of appeal. So, there is a way to go yet.

The report is interesting from a number of different perspectives. First of all, 710 objections were received, 1 supporting and 1 neutral representation were also received. In essence, the refusal recommendation is made based upon a swathe of planning policy conflicts, including conflicts under the following broad headings:

  • Landscape setting
  • Cumulative impact
  • Natural history
  • Tourism
  • Water environment
  • Community & residential amenity

I am greatly heartened by the recommendations and acknowledgements made by South Ayrshire Council in respect of this application. To my mind, the application contravened so many planning policies that had the planners recommended approval, it would have struck a real blow to the credibility of the planning system as a whole. I am also particularly pleased to see that residential amenity and tourism were both on the list of policy conflict areas, as these are both areas that seem to get little attention from Central Consents.

If you are available, please consider attending the regulatory panel hearing on October 27th, starting at 10:00 at County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr. Ensuring a good local turn out really helps to demonstrate that people do indeed care.