All posts by Giles Wheatley

Ayrshire pensioner says wind turbines have turned her life into “torture chamber”

When she arrived 30 years ago, the area was untouched and as close to wilderness as you get in Ayrshire.

A 19th century hill farm which once boasted 3000 acres of grazing for hardy sheep was paradise to flautist Pat Spence and her husband John.

They were drawn to the wide open upland, the silence, the peace – and the fact they could get an awful lot for their money.

She found one outbuilding perfect for her work as a classical music publisher and John, a public relations worker, could also operate from home.

Stone barns clustered at the rear of the large farmhouse of Dochroyle, the garden was perfect for Pat’s gardening hobby, and it came with 35 acres.

It stands in isolation down a rough track three miles from Barrhill.

But today widowed Pat, now 73 and still running Piper Publications, reveals: “It was a lovely place – but this is now my torture chamber.

“When we came up here we never thought anything would happen to the area, power generating windmills were unheard of. ”

There is an inner ring of 184 windmills at Mark, Arecleoch and Kilgallioch with more in the pipeline.

An outer ring – some of which she can also see including Hadyard near Dailly – is likely when Tralorg, Glenapp, Strannoch and Assel Foot happen.

Pat first became ill a year ago when forestry was felled, giving vibrations a clear path to the house. She said: “I came to realise I was waking up during the night as much as five times.

“I felt and feel terrible and it is like a cross between a heart attack and a panic attack.

“The sleep deprivation is becoming a serious problem and I feel the rhythms are trying to take over my body rhythms.Due to balance being connected to hearing, it makes me feel sick.

“Until 12 months ago I thought the worst thing about the turbines was the look of them. But now it’s my health.

“I came here for peace yet might as well be living in the middle of an industrial estate.

“There are times when I can feel my whole house shake. It was built solidly in 1898 and until about five years ago there were no plaster cracks.

“Now I have cracks and the doors are difficult or impossible to close properly.”

Pat believes she now has to flee the land she loves so much.

Others also feel the whirring giants are affecting their health, including David Baldwin who lives near Hadyard Hill.

Pat shows a letter from him four years ago complaining of an “all-consuming pulsating rumble” when his house is downwind.

David wrote: “It is like the noise inside an industrial manufacturing plant and has had negative health affects on several members of our family including stress, depression and an increase in headaches.”

Dochroyle sits on a hill and she believes the lower ground surrounding her “acts as an enormous resonating echo chamber”.

Pat said: “It is almost impossible to sell a house close to a wind farm, let alone one completely surrounded, and a valuer knocked £50,000 off because of the turbines.

“There is no compulsory compensation scheme such as you would get with a new airport or motorway.

“It seems that my only route is to ask the power companies to buy me out.

“People have become so ill because of the noise and flicker that they have already moved away. This happened at Tralorg and it is generally believed the operating company bought them out.”

Pat is sick of the David and Goliath battles the power companies wage, the slick PR presentations where they host meetings with locals before application and the “blood money” promise of community cash.

She believes that while things are not as bad as blatant dirty tricks, there is a lack of openness.

Pat said a recent meeting to do with another wind farm proposal was staged and only one member of the community was initially invited.

Letters asking for information go unanswered and meetings have to be “gatecrashed” by locals.

Pat said: “Their applications always include a soothing technical summary with enough techno gabble to discourage anyone but the most intrepid to plough through.

All they want at the end of the day is to make lots and lots of money from wind.

“I would like to see them prove they care about people like me.

“And I am afraid that now means buying me out, small change from their billions of pounds of revenue.”

 

See full story.

Carrick pensioner forced to give up dog and move to caravan after wind farm hell

Retired farmer Clifton Lockhart, 83, has lived in the house for 35 years but says the noise of the turbines has kept him wide awake.

A pensioner claims he has been forced to give up his dog and relocate to a caravan just to get a decent night’s sleep because he is tormented by the noise from a wind farm opposite his home.

Clifton Lockhart, 83, has lived in Tralodden Cottage near Old Dailly for the past 35 years, but says his golden years have been robbed from him since the turbines arrived 14 years ago and he has since been kept wide awake most nights.

The retired farmer, who is unable to read or write, told the Post he feels “pushed out of his own home” when the noise persists and now rents a caravan in Port William just to get a decent night’s sleep following a decade-long dispute with South Ayrshire Council and SSE wind farm bosses.

At his home, he said: “I have complained to South Ayrshire Council and SSE made a deal about switching the turbines off from 7pm to 10am every day, but that didn’t last long.

See full story.

Continued support from Michael Russell MSP

Michael Russell has written to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy raising his concerns about the renewed application for the Bachan Burn Wind Farm.

In his letter Michael Russell also expressed concern about the lack of transparency with the developer meeting only small community groups rather than consulting the wider community.

You can view the letter here:  MichaelRussellLetter.pdf

 

Scottish Government: Protection for residents and the environment

Increasing the installed capacity of onshore wind in Scotland is an important goal, but the Scottish Government does not support development at any cost. Proposed developments are subject to strict planning laws. In our efforts to support onshore wind in Scotland we have taken action to protect both residents and the environment.

Our policy seeks to strike a careful balance between utilising Scotland’s significant renewable energy resources whilst protecting our finest scenic landscapes, natural heritage and protecting residential amenity.

Our approach includes Scottish Planning Policy which makes clear that wind farms are not appropriate in National Parks or National Scenic Areas, which cover a fifth of Scotland. It also strengthens protection for wild land areas outwith National Parks and National Scenic Areas which cover a further tenth of the country. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has been working on guidance to give clarity to the assessment of wild land areas, and this is due to be published shortly. All applications are subject to scrutiny by statutory consultees such as SNH, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland and the relevant local authority.

See full report.

Support from MSP Michael Russell

Following the well attended meeting in the Queens Hall on Friday 13th, Michael Russell MSP has expressed his objection to the Bachan Burn wind farm with a strongly worded open letter to Martin Billhardt, Chairman of the Executive Board at PNE Wind.

“I am taking the unusual step of writing an open letter to you because it has become obvious that there is a ‘very strong concern in Dunoon and Cowal regarding your proposals and a clear view – expressed unanimously at the well attended meeting – that the best thing that could happen would be for you to decide not to take the proposal to the formal planning stage.”

Open letter to PNE WIND UK Ltd

Public Meeting with Dunoon Community Council

QUEENS HALL 13th March at 7:30pm 2015

Come along and have your say

Dunoon Community Council invites everyone to attend the public meeting to discuss the proposed Bachan Burn wind farm. There are four places on the panel; two in favour of the proposal and two opposed.
FOR

  • PNE (speaker yet to be confirmed)
  • Forestry Commission Scotland (speaker yet to be confirmed)

AGAINST

  • Douglas McCallum: Convenor of Save Cowal’s Hills
  • James Fraser: Tourism Consultant, Chair of Friends of Loch Lomond & Trossachs, and formally Chief Executive of our Area Tourist Board for 23 years.

Transcript of presentation made by Douglas McCallum

 

Radio Clyde Interview

Wednesday 11th March 2015: Philip Norris was interviewed on Inverclyde Radio prior to the meeting on Friday 13th. The Bachan Burn project is a concern to the people of Inverclyde. The Queens Hall meeting was well attended and residents of Inverclyde, including representation from Cardwell Bay and Greenock West Community Council attended and expressed their concerns.

PNEwind refuse to attend Public Meeting

A Public Meeting on the PNEwind  power company’s plans for ‘Bachan Burn’ wind farm on the Kilbride Hill range, just SW of Dunoon, was scheduled for June 19th,  2014, in the Queen’s Hall, Dunoon.

This meeting was planned by Dunoon Community Council, but  has now been postponed, due to the refusal by PNEwind to attend.

Save Cowal’s  Hills regards this  non-attendance by PNEwind as evidence that the company is not confident about its plans for 15 giant 145m high turbines on the Kilbride Hill range, directly above the Bishop’s Glen beauty spot, at the south end of Dunoon.

In its reply to the invitation, PNEwind stated that it prefers to keep to its own programme of ‘community engagement”. This includes ‘liason groups’ (set up by PNEwind), presentations(so far lacking key information), and encouragement to groups/trusts and others to apply for related funds which could become available should the wind farm become reality.

How much profit will a turbine turn?

Scarcely a week goes by when I am not asked by a local campaign group to publicise their fight against some scheme to build one of those increasingly hated wind farms. So many developers are now piling in on the subsidy bonanza that, according to a survey by the Western Morning News, in Cornwall and Devon alone no fewer than 600 such schemes are now being discussed or going through the planning process.

A ploy often used by developers to buy off opposition to their proposals is to offer cash to fund local community projects. But few campaign groups are aware just how derisory the sums often are, compared with the gains the developers stand to make.

See full story.