Jul 29 2011 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Friday
PLANS for a new windfarm in western Stirlingshire have sparked the rebirth of a protest group.
The Endrick Valley Action Group (EVAG) campaigned against Npower’s application for wind turbines at Ballindalloch Muir near Balfron.
Now it is preparing to bolster a protest against the Ard Ghaoth windfarm being proposed by Hamilton-based Banks Renewables on farmland north-east of Drymen.
The company is preparing for its fourth public exhibition on the plans, which takes place at Gartmore Village Hall on Tuesday between 3-7pm.
While it says feedback so far has been “positive and extremely useful”, things could be about to heat up.
EVAG spokesperson Mary Young said: “The landscape of West Stirlingshire is again under threat.
“The turbines proposed at Craigievern (Ard-Ghaoth) are the same height as those at the Braes of Doune – higher than the Statue of Liberty.
“People seem to have come away from the Banks’ recent exhibition in Drymen with the belief that the proposal is a done deal, that it would be happening within weeks and that Stirling Council had purposefully delineated the area as capable of supporting a windfarm.
“EVAG is informing everybody of the lengthy processes which have to be undergone and that Stirling Council’s policy and guidance makes it quite clear that the capacity to accommodate additional large turbines is considered to be severely limited.
“The EVAG team has been heartened by the support it has received, even in these early days, but it is conscious that many people who would be visually impacted upon are not aware of the proposal of the applications in place.
“If anyone requires further information or can offer help with the campaign we would ask them to contact EVAG at email@example.com or ring 01360 661451.”
Banks Renewables said visitors to the latest event will be able to see how the development would look when viewed from different points and learn how its plans would fit into the local landscape.
They added that detailed proposals for the scheme are still in development but that it is expected to involve up to 20 turbines with a maximum tip height of 100 metres. The project would have a capacity of up to 40MW, which is enough to power around 22,000 homes.
The company says a scoping report for the development and a planning application for a wind monitoring mast have been submitted to Stirling Council and ecological, ornithological and other preliminary investigations surveys are being carried out on site.
They also stated that the windfarm would “support a significant community benefits package” and it is “interested in hearing what are the key priorities and key issues facing the local communities as this information can be used to help direct any community benefits fund”.
Colin Anderson, a director of Banks Renewables, said: “Whilst the proposed site has been identified within an area that potentially has the capacity for a windfarm, we are also well aware of central Stirlingshire’s importance as a gateway link to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and have therefore already commenced a number of very detailed studies that will help us to prepare a comprehensive planning application and environmental statement which fully takes account of the setting of the site.
“Power generated by onshore windfarms such as Ard Ghaoth has a crucial role to play in meeting the UK’s energy generation requirements for the foreseeable future and this is especially the case in Scotland, where the government is firmly committed to producing all the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
“Anyone with queries about the scheme can contact our project team on 0191 378 6100 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.”