The owners of Ascog Farm have reacted angrily after an appeal against refusal of planning permission for three controversial wind turbines was dismissed.
The Scottish Government’s department for planning and environmental appeals (DPEA) announced on Wednesday that it had turned down the appeal, with reporter Richard Hickman stating that “the potential benefits of the scheme would not outweigh or justify the serious breach of the landscape protection policies that would be involved” (click here to read Mr Hickman’s report in full).
A post on the Ascog Farm website, reacting to the news, states: “Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, DPEA reporter Mr R.M. Hickman has concurred with Argyll & Bute Council planners in deciding to dismiss our appeal against council refusal of our planning application 12/02202/PP for three mid-sized community benefit wind turbines at Ascog Farm on Bute.
“In his rather lame summation DPEA reporter Mr Hickman writes: ‘On balance, taking account of the very significant adverse effect on the local landscape and the potential adverse effect on the enjoyment of the golf course, together with a risk that some tourist visitors to Bute would be deterred, I am satisfied that the potential benefits of the scheme would not outweigh or justify the serious breach of the landscape protection policies that would be involved. I have taken account of the other matters put forward in support of this application, but I find that they do not alter my conclusion. Accordingly I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.’
“Perish the thought that golfers would be put off their game, or tourists deterred from visiting, when over 40 much larger turbines - together with a coal and nuclear power station - are visible locally, from the ferry or from the top of the golf course!
“Does not a 7% reduction in the island’s CO2 emissions matter? Or the potential to generate - and share - generating income widely to create jobs and future prosperity? Perhaps golfers and mass tourism (long-dead on Bute since the 1950s) really will be the salvation of the economy!
“Needless to say we do not agree with Mr Hickman’s conclusions.
“Local authorities which, despite proclamations to the contrary, draw up local plans which seek to limit installation of wind turbines - which are by necessity large and are getting larger - seem to find it easy to have their logic reinforced by fellows of the same planning system.
“Mr Hickman, who appears to have dismissed quite a few wind turbine appeals lately, is in our view - along with an entrenched planning system - missing the point entirely.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently reported, with 95% certainty, that humans (mainly in the industrial developed world) have ‘forced’ climate change.
“Doing something about this - by driving more fuel efficient cars, switching the lights off, taking fewer flights and so on - is the responsibility of all of us.
“The responsibility of governments - and the planning system - is to ensure that electricity generating capacity sits in the best places. Consequently, throughout the world, wind turbines are found on the tops of hills and - quite often - near the coast. These are the locations that (as our yield estimates and the wind farm at Ardrossan over the water show) offer the best potential for efficient wind energy generation.
“If Ascog Farm was in Denmark or, persish the thought, in Ayrshire it seems very likely that a different planning outcome would have resulted.
“What will our descendants think of us in decades or hundreds of years? Rome? Burning? Rearranging chairs?
“Others will follow. And they will succeed. We wish them all the best...”