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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 December, 2003, 20:45 GMT
'Largest' wind farm plans passed
Wind turbine
The farm will meet the needs of about 80,000 homes
Plans for the largest onshore wind farm in the UK have been approved, according to power generator Scottish and Southern Energy.

The firm is planning a 130-megawatt wind farm at Hadyard Hill near Girvan in South Ayrshire.

It will provide enough clean energy to meet the average electricity needs of 80,000 homes.

Work on the 90m project will begin in 2004 and it is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2005.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence is threatening to block future wind farm development in much of Dumfriesshire, the Borders, Cumbria and South Lanarkshire.

The MoD is worried that seismological testing equipment at its Eskdalemuir observation post could be affected by the air waves released by some of the bigger wind turbines.

'Significant milestone'

Scottish and Southern Energy's chief executive Ian Marchant said: "The decision to grant consent for the Hadyard Hill development is a significant milestone in our programme of investment in renewable energy.

"It is also an encouraging example of the Ministry of Defence's willingness to engage with wind energy developers and planning authorities to ensure that good wind farm developments such as Hadyard Hill can take place.

"I am optimistic that we will be able to add to this development consent in the first few months of next year and play our full part in meeting the UK Government's new target of generating 15% of electricity from renewable sources by 2015."

This is great news for the people of Ayrshire and great news for the environment
Friends of the Earth spokesman
The company is awaiting the outcome of planning applications at other sites north of the border, including a 100-megawatt hydro-electric scheme at Glendoe near Loch Ness.

A spokesman for Friends of the Earth said: "This is great news for the people of Ayrshire and great news for the environment.

"Scotland's energy future lies in tapping into its natural resources such as wind, wave and solar.

"Unlike the radioactive discharges from the Hunterston nuclear power station just up the coast, this scheme will produce pollution-free energy.

"In time we hope that polluting nuclear power will be replaced by renewables and less hazardous energy schemes.

"It is good that the MoD has chosen not to thwart this project."

Ministry fears

However, ministry officials are worried about the spread of wind farms across parts of the north of England and south-west Scotland.

Its concerns emerged in a letter to Dumfries and Galloway councillors who were debating plans for a wind farm on a hill near Langholm, a few miles from Eskdalemuir.

The MoD said the development could affect the UK's involvement in a worldwide treaty to monitor nuclear arms testing in which Eskdalemuir will play a key part.

The monotoring station there is being upgraded as part of the project which is backed by 160 countries in an attempt to stop nuclear weapons testing.

The MoD is threatening to object to any windfarm proposed in a 50-mile radius of Eskdalemuir which would affect at least four existing plans in Dumfriesshire alone.

Scottish and Southern spokesman Denis Kirby
"We are planning developments across Scotland"

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