Friday, 16 March 2012

Breaker Hill wind farm #13

Yesterday, South Ayrshire Council's regulatory panel voted unanimously to reject the Breaker Hill wind farm planning application. Fantastic news. I think the rural communities in the area owe a huge vote of thanks to the small group of activists who were central to the opposition effort for many, many years. That group know who they are; they certainly have my respect. Doggedly, they spread the word about the potential development and ensured there was a healthy number of objections from a diverse cross section of individuals. Well done all. I will be updating my maps and statistics accordingly at the weekend.

Yesterday's decision also sends a strong political message: South Ayrshire Council will measure wind farm applications against a very strict set of criteria and will not just approve anything in a effort to see Scottish Government policy implemented at any cost. Having said that, it is still essential that people continue to express opinions about other developments. The planning system both permits and encourages this, and people should not feel shy about expressing their opinions.

There is of course always the possibility that the developers will appeal the decision. If they do, there is little more that can be done. However, if an appeal is launched and the Council's refusal overturned - then South Carrick will have to look no further than Edinburgh to find the individuals who would have been responsible for the wanton destruction of South Carrick. Let us all hope that the developers and land owners associated with Breaker Hill will now just walk away from this application with good grace and accept the verdict handed down yesterday.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Breaker Hill wind farm # 12

Earlier today, I received a copy of the Planning officers addendum to the report on the Breaker Hill planning application which goes before the regulatory panel on March 15th. Now, I hadn't read the additional material in detail at the end of last year, but a quote in the planning officer's report caught my eye. In essence, the Additional Information main text contains the following: "the addition of Breaker Hill into an existing landscape baseline that already includes a number of operational and consented developments has resulted in both a local and wider landscape that is characterised by windfarms and could actually reduce the overall sensitivity of that landscape to accept wind farm development".

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later, a developer attempting to justify one development by making reference to existing ones! In other words, the landscape's already broken, so why not let us just go ahead anyway? At least the planning officer didn't fall for that one. Links to all of the additional documents submitted by the developer are available here.

Also noted in the report is the rather pathetic attempt by the developers to make use of an organisation called Alliance4wind. This group of people accosted members of the public in Ayr attempting to get them to sign letters of support for the development. Needless to say, all 255 letters were received too late for inclusion in the original report. Shame. The recommendation of the planning department is still for refusal.

I headed over to the Alliance4wind website and found a few interesting things. First of all, the web site is actually a sub domain for the free hosting service that used to be called synthasite, but is now known as yola. So whoever these people are, they clearly cannot be bothered to register their own domain name (which by the way, IS available) - ohh, but hang on a minute, they'd have to give their address for that wouldn't they? And the contact telephone number? A mobile. Says it all really. Going back to the home page, Alliance4wind claims that its website is powered by ecotricity renewable energy. Given that yola is based in San Francisco, I sincereley doubt the accuracy of this claim. Whoever Alliance4wind are, they clearly are neither professional nor credible! Perhaps we will see them campaigning for support for Straid Farm wind farm - I'll look forward to that!