Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Straid wind farm # 12

Once again, we see ecotricity desperately trying to put a positive spin on their proposed development at Straid Farm. In a letter published in last week's Carrick Gazette, Mike Cheshire appears somewhat confused and ill-informed and seems intent on telling people what they have probably already figured out for themselves: if you look out to sea, you will not see the wind turbines. Well, that's a bit like saying you won't be able to hear the turbines in Colmonell or Girvan.

Mr Cheshire opens his letter by asserting that 'The spectacular views, I'm sure everyone will agree, are out to sea over Carlton Bay and across to Ailsa Craig'. For some people, this may be the case. However for others, the view looking towards Pinbain Hill is equally pleasant. Indeed, protecting this view was the reasoning behind removing two of the turbines from the original proposed layout - or so ecotricity said at the time at any rate. Presumably, this view is no longer important then?

The letter also talks about how the houses in Carlton Bay face the sea so that they have a sea view. And yes, I accept this is to give them a sea view. However, this does not mean that what is to the left or right of them is irrelevant. Perhaps Mr Cheshire is unaware that as human beings, we have an almost 180° field of view. When we look at something, our attention may be focussed on the particular item or object that holds our interest, but we see far more than the tiny area in front of us. We are equipped with what is effectively, almost panoramic vision, and we cannot just blot bits out of our view because they are inconvenient. Therefore, what is on the periphery of our vision is important - we don't have tunnel vision (well, most of us don't).

To me the most spectacular view of this part of South Ayrshire is from the south, descending Bennane Hill and coming through Lendalfoot. It takes in the bay (straight ahead), Aisla Craig (on the left) and the hills (on the right) - and this view will be totally wrecked by the proposed development. There is also a gross inaccuracy in Mr Cheshire's letter: 'Views across the bay from picnic areas and other parking bays along the short stretch of coastal road where the turbines may be visible would also remain unaffected'. So, today I went down to the Varyag memorial and took the following picture:

This view is looking towards Straid. Now, imagine the Straid turbines have been built. The red line is at the existing met' mast height and therefore shows the approximate hub height - we have to add on a blade length to this level to get the true blade tip elevation - how on Earth can it be claimed that this view would remain unaffected by the placement of 14 turbines of around 300 feet blade tip elevation?

There is a general thrust in the letter that seems to indicate that the picnic areas are what matters here and that the resident's amenity is largely irrelevant. Whilst both are important, I think it is fair to say that people using picnic areas can choose where to eat, and to a certain degree what they look at whilst they eat - the residents of Lendalfoot don't have quite the same degree of flexibility; for the most part they chose to live in Lendalfoot long before this proposal was ever dreamt up and doubtless for very specific, personal reasons.

What astounds me about this letter though, is the attitude of the author and the ridiculous attempts to tell the residents of Lendalfoot what is important to them (along with irrelevancies and inaccuracies). It really does demonstrate the enormous gulf between wind farm developers (as an industry), and those that have the burdens of such developments rammed down their throats - perhaps for the rest of their lives. If the purpose of this letter was to assuage the feelings and thoughts of the residents of Lendalfoot, I think it will have completely the opposite effect.