DAVID faced Goliath in an epic battle at New Cumnock town hall between an unpaid member of the community and a major developer’s task force.

New Cumnock Community Council was taking on developers who want to erect a 19-turbine wind farm at Pencloe, around two miles south of the village.

It looked like a case of overwhelming odds in favour of the company at the opening of a four-day public inquiry, held after East Ayrshire Council had rejected the application.

Following that decision the developers appealed to the Scottish Government. who in turn arranged last week’s event to enable a final decision to be made.

Eric Bennett, pictured, community council treasurer, started off the inquiry by complaining about the disproportionate resources between opposing sides of the dispute.

He said that he, as a volunteer was representing the community while the developer, with a very large cheque book, was able to muster a QC, landscape architect, two transport specialists and three other consultants to state their case.

“It really is case of David and Goliath but with David’s hands tied behind his back and hood over his head,” Mr Bennett said.

The Reporter, Tim Brian, who was hearing the appeal on behalf of the Scottish Government said he had noted the imbalance.

During proceedings Mr Bennett pointed out that the vast amount of evidence the developer had presented had one major flaw. They had at no time consulted the local community and asked them what they thought.

Mr Bennett pointed out that, in her evidence, the consultant landscape architect had three times pointed out that the people of New Cumnock were ‘used to seeing wind farms’— but this did not necessarily mean that they liked them.

Giving evidence on behalf of the community council, Jerry Mulders said that no thought had been given to the views from the Covenanters Memorial Cross at Greenburn.

Thousands of pounds have been spent building a tourist attraction with car park and viewpoints, which will be looking directly at a windfarm if this development gets permission.

Local resident, Jean McHarg told Mr Brian about the disruption to Afton Road caused by traffic involved in the construction of the Afton wind farm.

Pencloe would use the same access route. There had also been at least three incidents caused by noise disruption to funerals at the New Cumnock Cemetery.

Mr Bennett then pointed out that if Pencloe, Ashmark and High Park developments all went ahead at the same time and used the same road the cumulative impact on the Afton Road, never mind the rest of New Cumnock, would be intolerable.

In their argument for the proposal the developers, Pencloe Wind Energy Ltd, say the windfarm will have an installed capacity of 69.3MW.

They say that each year it will produce enough energy to power approximately 41,000 homes which will help Scotland to meet its renewable energy targets.

Pencloe windfarm also has the potential to generate sizeable long term income for New Cumnock, which the developers say is a significant opportunity to secure funding to achieve some of the aims of the area’s community plan.

Mr. Brian is due to give his findings and recommendation to Scottish Ministers at a later date.