Dec 1 2011 by Alastair McNeill, Hamilton Advertiser
TWO windfarms at Drumclog near Strathaven – with a total of 26 turbines – were this week approved by South Lanarkshire councillors.
Plans submitted by Falck Renewables included 12 turbines and “ancillary development” at West Browncastle Farm.
Community Windpower’s plans for land beside Hareshawhill Farm were for 14 turbines, with sub-station, meteorological mast, access tracks and associated infrastructure.
Construction of the 14-turbine scheme is expected to take between six and nine months, while the 12-turbine scheme will take a year. Both are expected to operate for 25 years.
The Falck plan attracted eight letters of objection and seven of support, while the Community Windpower plan attracted four letters of objection and one of support.
Strathaven Community Council objected to the 14-turbine scheme beside Hareshawhill Farm on the grounds of landscape and visual impact and its effect on roads, the community and wildlife.
However, in documents put before councillors, planning chief Colin McDowall pointed out that traffic and transportation services did not have any objection to the proposed access route to the windfarm.
He added: “The proposed development is located within a landscape character type that can accommodate windfarm developments, through suitable conditions and mitigation measures. It is evident from (a previous windfarm) assessment that any identified impacts would not be significant or material.”
Strathaven Community Council also objected to the 12-turbine scheme and expressed concerns about the number of windfarms being given approval in the area.
Mr McDowall commented: “The Scottish Government has set a target of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020.
“Scottish planning policy indicates that windfarm developments should be in locations where technology can operate efficiently and environmental and cumulative impacts can be satisfactorily addressed.”
Sandford and Upper Avondale Community Council also objected to the 12-turbine scheme at West Browncastle Farm, citing concerns which included habitat and ornithology, visibility and cumulative impact and noise and related issues.
Referring to the previous impact assessment, Mr McDowall said with suitable conditions and mitigation measures the impact of the scheme would “not be significant or material”.
He also said it was “inevitable” that both developments would have “some environmental impact”.
Falck’s plan was continuous with the existing Whitelee wind farm, he pointed out, adding a further 12 turbines to a landscape of 215 turbines, including existing and proposed developments at Whitelee.
Both schemes were granted subject to conditions and the conclusion of necessary legal agreements.
Mr McDowall said these would “cover financial contributions to cover exceptional damage to roads, contributions towards the monitoring and enforcement of works on the development, implementation of the Habitat Management Plan and contributions to the council’s Renewable Energy Fund.
He added: “Consent should be withheld until these legal agreements have been concluded.”