Ten years after it was first proposed, a new 27-turbine wind farm in rural East Ayrshire has been approved by Fergus Ewing, Scottish Energy Minister – with just one turbine fewer than initially planned.
East Ayrshire Council and Prestwick airport – now owned by the Scottish Government – were among the objectors. New Cumnock Community Council, however, supported the wind farm plan.
After having its financial fingers burnt over decommissioning costs for surface coal mining operations in its area – and having been subjected to a scathing external report which lamented poor professional practice in its planning department – East Ayrshire council officials demanded increased financial guarantees from the developer to decommission the wind farm.
However, once complete, the wind farm will have the potential to power the equivalent of almost 35,000 homes and generate community benefit funding of more than £9 million over its lifetime. The proposed Afton wind farm, which will be developed by E.ON Renewables will have a maximum generating capacity of around 74MW.
To built on land which forms part of the Afton reservoir catchment area – about five miles from New Cumnock – the Afton wind farm site is directly adjacent to the existing Windy Standard Wind Farm which lies just over the county border in Dumfries and Galloway.
The E.ON Group is the largest privately owned integrated energy company in the world.
Ewing said: “The Afton wind farm will create jobs both in its construction, and during its lifetime.
“In addition it will bring up to £9.2 million of community benefit funding for East Ayrshire communities and be able to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of almost 35,000 homes.
“I have imposed rigorous conditions on the consent to ensure that any impacts of the development on communities, the environment, our natural heritage and aviation are appropriately mitigated.
“Once it is up and running the wind farm will help reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation, aiding Scotland’s work to tackle climate change.
“We want to see the right developments in the right places. Design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale of the landscape and should be considered environmentally-acceptable.”