Windfarm plan is put on hold

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CONTROVERSIAL plans for a windfarm near Drymen have been shelved - for now at least.

Developer Banks Renewables insists it has not pulled out of the project - it’s simply been delayed.

They still plan to submit a planning application for the Ard Ghaoth windfarm but the company is going to carry out more detailed wind analysis at the site after recent tests showed unexpected results.

Their outline plans would see 10 turbines being erected which would generate up to 20MW, enough to meet the annual electricity requirements of 11,100 homes.

Colin Anderson, director at Banks Renewables, said: “We want to take more time gathering and analysing wind data at the site, because the first few months’ worth of information collected has thrown up some surprises.

“Effectively we are seeing wind speeds during this early stage in monitoring which are lower than we expected and deviate from the estimates by independent experts based on available data from the nearest wind farms and met office stations and what we see generally in Scotland.

“We take great pride in our development with care philosophy and in light of these unexpected findings, we want to do the responsible thing. In this case, that means putting the planning submission on hold while we investigate further.

“We remain committed to the site and once we have more detailed information available to us we look forward to continuing with the development.

“In the meantime, we will be delaying a series of planned public exhibitions, though our team on the ground will remain in close contact with members of the local community.”

The team at Banks Renewables erected a 60ft wind mast, complete with wind data monitoring equipment, at the Ard Ghaoth site in December 2011 and will continue wind monitoring for at least another year to build up a complete picture of the wind resource.

To estimate wind speed on a site developers use a variety of independent sources, including current data from surrounding wind farm sites, information from NOABL - a source of national wind speed data – as well as Met Office data.

Hamilton-based Banks Renewables has been liaising with the local community since the outset of the proposal, and will continue to provide regular updates as it gathers more information over the coming months.

Mr Anderson added: “We are committed to supporting the Scottish Government’s drive towards producing all of the energy consumed in the country through renewable means and the proposed site at Ard Ghaoth was developed as a fundamental part of this drive.”

However the Ard Ghaoth plan has been opposed by the Endrick Valley Action Group which successfully fought off a proposed windfarm by Npower Renewables at Ballindalloch Muir near Balfron.

The group claims that the windfarm would have a huge impact on the area which is famed for its natural beauty, the site is next to a national park and the turbines would be visible from the West Highlands, the Wallace Monument and the Lake of Menteith as well as other significant attractions, they also argue that villages that depend on tourism could be adversely affected.