National Trust For Scotland Opposes Culzean Wind Farm

By Richard Moss | 14 March 2006
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a photograph of a walled garden together with hills in the distance which have wind turbines on them

A photographic mock-up that visualises how the National Trust for Scotland sees the impact of the wind farm at Culzean Castle. © NTS

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has announced it is to oppose the proposed development of a wind farm on hills surrounding Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.

A proposal has been put forward by the Banks Group, a mining and renewable energy company based in Durham, which would see 15 turbines measuring up to 76 metres (approximately 240 feet) in height erected on Knoweside Hill, two-and-a-half miles from Culzean Castle.

The NTS believes these would have a significant impact on the skyline and the designed landscape of Culzean Country Park.

“We are extremely disappointed by the proposals to site a wind farm on Knoweside Hill,” said Shonaig Macpherson, Executive Chairman of the NTS. “In terms of Ayrshire and Culzean, this is akin to a developer trying to site a wind farm on Arthur's Seat, oblivious to the impact it would have on Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh's economy.”

The Trust say the wind farm will be visible from the castle, the Home Farm Visitor Centre and many other parts of the 18th century-designed landscape.

a panoramic photograph of a castle with wind turbines superimposed onto the horizon

A photographic mock-up that visualises how the National Trust for Scotland sees the impact of the wind farm at Culzean Castle. © NTS

“If the wind farm goes ahead, it will add an unwanted blot on the skyline to future Open Championships at Turnberry and the world famous Electric Brae at Croy,” said Macpherson.

“Burns country will surely be the poorer as it gears up for its international homecoming celebration in 2009 with 15 giant turbines dominating the main route on the Burn’s heritage trail,” she added. “I wonder if the developer would be so keen to see a similar wind farm adjacent to the cathedral in their home town of Durham?”

Responding to the Trust's claims a spokesperson for Banks said: “We are disappointed the NTS has made the decision to object to the application on the grounds of the photo montages they have produced. These images are very different to those prepared by well respected consultants produced to strict guidelines by Scottish National Heritage."

Banks also maintain they have been trying to meet with the Trust to discuss the issues and would welcome the opportunity to do so.

"Detailed work has shown there are only limited views of the turbines from Culzean Castle and its grounds as a result of the careful and sympathetic management of the scheme and its exisitng woodland," added the spokesperson.

a photograph of a large castle photgraphed from its pond and grounds

Culzean Castle © NTS

This is the first time the Trust has formally objected to a wind farm development and it could prove to be a spanner in the works for government plans to boost renewable energy in the country.

In February 2006 the Scottish Executive announced it is to prepare a Renewable Heat Strategy for the country - a move welcomed by Scottish Renewables, the Forum for Scotland’s Renewable Energy Industry.

“A clear strategy from the Scottish Executive on how to support this growing industry will send an unambiguous signal to investors and consumers alike,” said Maf Smith the Forum’s Chief Executive. “Basically, renewable heating is getting the green light at last.”

With some of the windiest locations in Europe and an average wind speed of more than 7.5 metres per second (at 50 metres altitude), it is windpower that currently seems to be getting the green light as the market leader for renewable heat.

However the proposals for a wind farm at Culzean Park may yet founder with NTS and its 291,000 members lining up as a strong and influential opponent. "The National Trust for Scotland, together with our partners, and our tens of thousands of members in Ayrshire and beyond will strongly oppose these proposals," said Shonaig Macpherson.

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