The Reporter, appointed by the Scottish Government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, dismissed an appeal made by the developer Wind Prospect Developments Ltd.

The Reporter refused the appeal on the grounds that the scheme would have significant adverse visual effects, including cumulative effects of other established wind farms, on key views to and from the Stinchar Valley and Lower Duisk Valley area and Coastal Foothills.

Read the Appeal Decision Notice here

Planning Decision – Refused June 2014

The decision made by South Ayrshire Council on this planning application is APPLICATION REFUSED. This decision was reached on 19th June 2014.

The reasons for the Council’s decision are:

(1)        Wind Farms

That the proposed development is contrary to policies ECON6 and ECON7 of the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan and the AJSP Addendum on Windfarms in that the site is located outwith the Areas of Search for windfarms in the development plan and the development proposal has adverse effects on tourism and leisure interests, residential amenity, sensitive landscape character areas (including cumulative impacts) and to an extent that cannot be satisfactorily overcome or mitigated. There are no over-riding reasons to depart from development plan policy.

(2)        Landscape

That the proposed development would be contrary to policies STRAT1, ECON6, ECON7 F & G, ENV1, ENV2 & ENV4 of the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan (AJSP), the AJSP Addendum on Windfarms, policies STRAT5, BE1, ENV8, ENV10 & SERV3 of the adopted South Ayrshire Local Plan and Scottish Planning Policy & Advice in that it would have a direct and significant impact on the sensitive landscape and scenic qualities of the area and the potential adverse effects cannot be satisfactorily addressed. Specifically the application proposes a windfarm development breaking the skyline within a landscape character type which is not considered as a suitable search area for windfarms on landscape character grounds. The location of the site is at an important convergence of the Assel, Duisk and Stinchar Valleys and forms part of a range of hills which contribute to the setting of those valleys and which provide a clear ridge and separation between the coast, the plateau moorlands and forested foothills beyond.

(3)        Cumulative impact

That the proposed development would be contrary to policies ECON6, ECON7 D & ENV4 of the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan (AJSP), the AJSP Addendum on Windfarms, policy SERV3 of the adopted South Ayrshire Local Plan and Scottish Planning Policy & Advice in that the proposed development, in combination with other windfarms, would have a cumulative and significant adverse effect on landscape character and visual amenity. There are no over-riding reasons to depart from development plan policy or government policy and guidance.

(4)        Tourism

That the application proposal is contrary policies ECON6, ECON7 E(3) and ECON12 of the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan (AJSP), the AJSP Addendum on Windfarms, policy SERV3 of the adopted South Ayrshire Local Plan and Scottish Planning Policy & Advice in that, on the information available, it is considered to be likely to have an adverse impact on the tourism resource in the locality of the application site which includes its high scenic value. There are no over-riding reasons to depart from development plan policy or government policy and guidance.

(5)        Communities and Residential Amenity

That the application proposal is contrary to policies ECON6, ECON7 E (4) & G of the Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan (AJSP), the AJSP Addendum on Windfarms and policy STRAT5 and BE1 of the adopted South Ayrshire Local Plan by reason of the potential detrimental impact on residential amenity of communities and dwellings within the locality due to the scale, visual dominance and proximity of the wind turbines. The applicant has not demonstrated that the impact will be acceptable. There are no over-riding reasons to depart from development plan policy.

Read the full Planning Report here

Site Information

The Breaker Hill Wind Farm proposal is for nine 800kW wind turbines (7.2MW), with a 60m tower height and 53m rotor diameter (86.5m tip height), along with underground cables, 6.3km of access tracks, a 60m lattice style anemometer mast, a switchgear building and a temporary construction compound. They would be built on Breaker Hill, currently forest, and Craig Hill, part of Poundland Farm.

About 153.2 hectares of commercial conifer plantation would be clear felled to accommodate the wind farm. Access roads would be built up the hill from Almont Farm.

Construction access for the turbines would be from Ballantrae along the B734 through Colmonell and into the forest at Almont Farm. Other construction traffic will use the A714 between Girvan and Newton Stewart.

The South Ayrshire Council Planning Panel Hearing is likely to be scheduled for June 2014.

History

This is the second application for a wind farm on this site submitted by Wind Prospect Ltd. The first proposal for 15 turbines was refused by South Ayrshire Council in 2012. Several hundred people wrote and objected to the original proposal. It was refused by South Ayrshire Council as it contravened so many planning policies. The present application is for fewer, smaller turbines, but would still have a significant impact on the area.

Although the developers have now reduced the number of turbines from 15 to 9 and the height from 99m to 86.5m, the impact on villages and surrounding countryside remains considerable. The fact remains that the development is still one too many, especially given the fact that there are already three large windfarms nearby, and a fourth has just been approved.