Windfarm

The proposed area for the 14 turbine windfarm at Auchleand Farm
The proposed area for the 14 turbine windfarm at Auchleand Farm

A Windfarm on farmland near Newton Stewart could see hundreds of thousands on pounds pumped into the community but local community representatives voiced concerns about the the impact fourteen 130-metre high turbines would have on area.

THE possibility of a windfarm on land behind Aucheland Farm was discussed at an information night in the County Buildings in Wigtown last week.

Representatives from Wigtown, Kirkcowan, Cree Valley and Creetown Community Councils were all there to hear from Gillian Cropper, the Senior Project Manager for Community Windpower Ltd, the renewable energy company that hopes to lodge an application for the windfarm with Dumfries and Galloway Council by the summer.

Ms Cropper said that Community Windpower specialised in “developing, constructing and operating onshore windfarms”.

Tests on the areas highlighted on the map attached revealed there was an average windspeed of 7.2 to 7.5 metres per second and, if permission were granted, a “buffer zone” of 750 metres would be put in place between the turbines and the nearest homes. Access to the site would be via the Auchleand Farm road.

The turbines would be 130 metres (420 feet) high from the base to the blade tip and could generate a total capacity of 42 megawatts of electricity to be fed directly into the network at Newton Stewart.

Communities local to the windfarm, known as “host communities”, could benefit financially as one of the council’s conditions for windfarm development is an annual payment from the energy companies of £5,000 per megawatt. She estimated that 14 turbines would generate an income of £210,000 for the surrounding area split 50/50 between the host communities and a council-run region wide socioeconomic fund.

In a question and answer session, Gillian was asked if the MOD would have concerns about turbines that size affecting low flying exercises in the area and also birds migrating to and from the Wigtown Bay Local Nature Reserve. She said the MOD had confirmed to them “in writing” that they had no concerns and a survey showed that there would be “no negative impact on wildlife”.

When asked about noise of the turbines, the energy company representative stated that this was negligible, that up close you would hear the “woosh” of the blades rotating but on a windy day this is cancelled out.

The next query was about the possible impact on house prices. Gillian said that statistics show there was “no dramatic effect” and that properties near the turbines often received electricity vouchers to redress the balance.

Jim McColm from Wigtown Community Council pointed out that much smaller turbines had been refused at a nearby farm recently and although the buffer zone mentioned did not include a significant amount of properties, if you went out to two kilometres there was quite a densely populated area and turbines that size would be seen from 20-30 miles away.

Ms Cropper said that she understood there might be concerns about the impact of turbines on any community but as a country we had to develop renewable energy from somewhere. It was not just about wind power, she said, as significant developments harnessing both solar and wave power were being made.

She concluded: “Renewable energy technology is improving and perhaps in 25 years time windfarms may not be required anymore and could then be decommissioned and dismantled.”

One member of the public attending the meeting pointed out that any financial gain for communities would simply be “giving us our own money back” as he had been given statistics under the Freedom of Information Act that showed the Government funded onshore windfarms to the tune of £146.30 per magawatt. He added that nuclear energy was receiving £67.80 per megawatt in comparison.