So I have written to Mr Salmond, and copied in all MSPs:
You spoke candidly about tourism in Ayrshire recently, and I quote, ‘South Ayrshire is Scotland’s tourism mecca. So says Mr Salmond, who insists the region attracts global interest wherever he goes. The First Minister revealed: “I honestly think this area has so much untapped potential. You look round and this is a stunningly beautiful part of Scotland.”
I agree with you 100% I have my own 5 gold star Wolsey Lodge, am vice chairman of Wolsey Lodges Ltd., chairman of Holiday Southern Scotland and sit on the Ayrshire and Arran Chamber Tourism Partnership Forum and Ayrshire Chamber Business Forum. I am passionate about Tourism in SW Scotland, its unique combination of special landscapes and wildlife areas, rich cultural heritage and communities that care about their environment and culture and want to develop it sustainably. I am thrilled that Galloway and South Ayrshire is the best Dark Sky Park in the UK; a Biosphere for which the application for UNESCO status, something to be treasured offering a unique opportunity to tourism businesses in an otherwise fragile rural economy. Ayrshire could become the ‘Food Capital of Scotland’ with fantastic produce from farmers who have diversified, which is sold and served in B&B’s, hotels, restaurants, farmers markets, farm shops and cafes. Ayrshire links golf is world renowned and there is world class sailing, walking and cycling.
So WHY would you allow all this to be destroyed with the annihilation of our USP – unscarred scenery. For years the planners have been custodians of our countryside not allowing new buildings or unsympathetic alterations! This never happened in Ireland, consequently their countryside is littered with developments. This is what you are now doing to the Scottish landscapes when planners are overruled by the Scottish Government if they do not give the go ahead for hideous turbines, as happened with the Blackcraig application which GLARE fought for 7 years.
The creation of a further 367 huge turbines in South Carrick will make it into an industrial wasteland. As we already have more than our fair share at 156. Whether our visitors come to climb mountains, play golf, eat our food, visit the new Burns Museum or Culzean – they all travel through our countryside admiring the views. They have a right to those views – uninterrupted by endless turbines. Sandra Osbourne MP raised this issue during the Hansard debate:
And I quote:
“There are 20 wind farms operational, at the scoping stage or in the planning process in my constituency and the adjacent area of Galloway, which is by no means large; it is a small area of Scotland. People will not be able to see the details, but I have a map of the area that indicates the scale of development that will happen if all the wind farm applications go through. We will have almost 600 wind turbines, and even the most ardent environmentalist must surely understand that that is not acceptable in anybody’s book.”
A planning application is about to be submitted for 36 wind turbines at Glenapp and Loch Ree. These will greet every visitor to Scotland from Ireland as they sail in to Cairnryan. Already some tourism businesses are selling up; there is friction in the communities between the farmers, who are rubbing their hands together at the thought of ‘free money’ from ‘feed in tariffs’ from their wind turbines, and tourism operators who see their businesses being destroyed. This is money every house holder in Scotland will pay for, as his or her electricity bills continue to rise. This is robbing the poor to give to the rich!
Farmers are being coerced into erecting wind turbines – it is impossible to get a map to show the accumulative effect of wind farms and individual turbine applications – an application for 2 of these are in the field opposite my drive, which will obliterate my guest’s ‘right to’ view the ‘Northern Lights’, seen from this vantage point. People from all over the world pay a fortune to see the Northern Lights and South Ayrshire has this item of special scientific interest in their dark sky park – in the Stinchar Valley –a USP for my business!. To object to this turbine application, I attended the Regulatory Panel Hearing on Thursday 19th May. I was surprised at how biased towards the approval of these turbines, the presentation was, with poor, unrealistic photographic evidence.
I felt that the chair gave the whole meeting short shift and did not allow any debate or questions by the panel before an out come for the motions was approved.
In fact I was totally confused as to why after 3 votes for the approval and 4 for refusal that it was necessary to vote on a site visit? Surely a majority vote that the turbines be refused negates the necessity for a site visit! It seemed to me that the chair did not want the panel to be able to debate the relevant points of the application, or to be able to question the objectors. Could it be that the erection of the turbines contravene Section 25 of Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (as amended) policy ENV2, Policy STRAT5, ENV8, SERV3, ENV1, ENV2, ECON6, ENV7 and policy STRAT1 of the Ayrshire Structure Plan? I am told that the Stinchar Valley is the ‘preferred’ location for wind turbines! I have written for clarification of protocol and a judicial review may be necessary.
Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wild Life Trust have been asked why they make no objections to small turbine applications within special protection areas (such as ours – Glenapp and Galloway Moors) when the site’s status means that the requirements of the Conservation (Natural Habitats) regulation 1994 as amended, apply? They told me that they are under intense pressure both financially and time wise to be able to complete scientific surveys on all the big wind farm applications, so they have a strict criteria to adhere to and thus do not object to small turbine applications. Many visitors to the area are ornithologists who have a right to watch and listen to the birds. Turbines infringe on these rights.
I do not really need to mention that without the subsidies these wind turbines would be unviable – The John Muir Trust has clarified that – or that they often use more energy from the grid than they produce during high pressure weather conditions. Would it not make more sense to invest all the wind turbine money in enhancing tidal power, or giving subsidies for solar panels and PV – so that many ordinary folk could benefit from renewables, or harnessing micro hydro turbines – which many farmers would do if SEPA did not require so much red tape – ALL much better for the environment than the fickle wind!! We are on the same grid as Arecleoch wind farm and it is like living in the 3rd world with constant surges of power – when the wind farms are switched off for high winds –as last night – when I am cooking dinner for guests. Or the 6th May which caused my phones and dishwasher to malfunction .
Cosses Country House and Glenapp Castle are 2 unique award winning 5 gold star businesses in South Ayrshire, attracting high spending high expectation guests who spend a lot of money in the area. If you continue to devalue the area, you put all the tourism businesses and jobs at risk. 11% of Ayrshire jobs are directly attributed to tourism and many more indirectly.
As custodian of Scotland’s landscape the Scottish Government has a duty to preserve it for future generations. Having a minister for Energy and Tourism is a serious conflict of interest and should be rectified to preserve the unique combination of special landscapes and wildlife areas. Visit Scotland
Mr Salmond, we are considering the future of Cosses Country House and it very much depends on you. Do we see a future in this stunningly beautiful part of Scotland. and encourage our daughter to return from New Zealand and continue promoting tourism. Or do we sell up whilst our property still has SOME value and join her in New Zealand. I can assure you that I am not the only tourism business throughout Scotland who is thinking this way.
I hope that this provides the impetus for a full debate in the Scottish Parliament.