“Overwhelmed” with turbines

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An elected member stated that there were so many planning applications for windfarms lodged with Dumfries and Galloway Council, planning officers were “overwhelmed”.

Cree Valley Community Councillors had just listened to an update from representatives of Gamesa, about what stage their plans were to build a 15-turbine windfarm near Bargrennan.

Amy Townsend, from Gamesa, said that the renewable energy company’s plans were in the early stages with surveys taking place on the site at the moment. These were expected to take six months and “by that point”, she said, “we will know if there are any major issues.”

When asked by Cree Valley Community Council acting chairman Clifford Smithers when the windfarm would be operational, she replied “2019 at the earliest, if planning is granted.”

Community Councillor Anthony Berretti expressed his concerns about the ability of the road up to the Ochiltree site to cope with the heavy loads as well as negotiating 54 metre blades. He suggested that sections of the road would need to be upgraded.

Ms Townsend asked if the community council would be interested in a community ownership scheme, but Mr Smithers said that it was too early in the process to make decisions on that. But he added that at this stage the community council would “rule nothing out”.

After the discussion with the Gamesa representatives had concluded, community councillor Bob Boan expressing his growing concern over number of windfarms that were appearing around the Cree Valley area. He raged that the area from Challoch up to Givan was in danger of becoming a “windfarm dump” and suggested the community council should take a stance on wind power developments.

He added: “Our councillors are staying that enough is enough but it just gets rubber-stamped in Edinburgh. We’re becoming a car park for wind farms.”

Clifford Smithers also voiced his frustration at the situation where elected members on the council’s planning applications committee rejected a windfarm application only to have that overturned by a Scottish Government Reporter. He gave examples of renewable energy companies appealing to the Scottish Government recently because no timeous decision had been made by the council over their applications. Councillor Jim McColm pointed out the huge number of wind farm applications the council officers were trying to process was to blame, adding that the energy firms were within their rights to appeal, however unpalatable communities found it.