Council fights wind farm plans

Dumfries and Galloway Council has responded to the Scottish government’s Marine Planning consultation with a recommendation to remove two wind farm proposals at Luce Bay and another which would see the existing site at Robin Rigg expanded.

The Marine Plan highlights two offshore wind farm projects as well as a tidal scheme which could be implemented in the region.

One of the main concerns with the plan is the lack of clear policy criteria which would be used by Marine Scotland to decide on whether to implement proposed projects. The Marine Plan identifies potential areas of conflict such as the environmental impact, but there is little guidance on what should be done to resolve these conflicts.

The Luce Bay wind farm would be visually prominent from the Mull of Galloway and the western coast of the Machars, both designated Regional Scenic Areas. The plan does not resolve any potential conflicts with the local tourism industry or with those that fish in the area. There are also areas of bird sensitivity around both peninsulas.

The proposed extension to the Robin Rigg wind farm has been rejected previously. There were objections from the public on both its environmental and visual impact. In 2011 Scottish ministers acknowledged that a socio-economic assessment suggested there would be little or no economic benefit from the extended wind farm and it could even have a detrimental effect on the local economy. These issues have not been fully addressed in the current plan so the council will maintain its objections to this proposal.

Councillor Colin Smyth, chairman of the Planning, Housing and Environment Committee, said: “There are real concerns that potential developments at Luce Bay and the extension at Robin Rigg will damage important wildlife as well as tourism and these issues have not been addressed in the Scottish government’s Marine Plan.

“The council needs to take a tough stance on this issue and make clear our objections. Public consultations have taken place in Dumfries and Galloway, but there is apprehension that not all relevant information has been made available to the public and key stakeholders from the start of the consultation process. The Marine Plan will be used by Marine Scotland to make these crucial decisions so there is clearly some work to be done.”