COUNCILLORS are set to approve the proposed Overhill Wind Farm despite fears it could damage important wildlife habitat.

The 10-turbine development would be the tallest wind farm in East Ayrshire and is set to be approved by councillors during Friday’s planning committee meeting.

Communities in Dalmellington, Patna, Drongan, Auchinleck, and Cumnock are set to receive funding through the proposed Community Benefit Fund while an estimated 16,000 lorries are set to travel through New Cumnock during the lifetime of the project.

Resident Jerry Mulders – Overhill’s nearest neighbour – is unsatisfied with the proposals put forward.

He told the Chronicle: “There will be approximately 16,700 lorries travelling through New Cumnock – EAC has placed an embargo on lorries going through Dalmellington – on top of the already consented wind farms at Pencloe and South Kyle.

“The turbines are taller than any that have yet to be built in East Ayrshire. They will create a significant visual impact.

“Isolated properties are discriminated against compared to groups of houses regarding the distance from wind turbines. They don’t have the same setback rights as a community.

“Overhill will close the gap and encircle New Cumnock along with the rest of the wind farms in the area. There were 840 objections lodged, the majority from New Cumnock, so people will be hoping that the planning committee will allow local democracy to persevere.”

Jerry was also unhappy with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) who could be failing to protect a vital peat bog in the area.

He added: “I’m disappointed that SNH have decided that removing commercially grown trees and blocking some drains is sufficient mitigation to warrant further damage one of the nationally important peat bogs in east Ayrshire.

“This is a good peat bog, on of the best, so it’s disappointing SNH have said it’s alright subject to a few conditions. Overhill is the one area that has survived the coal mining. It’s an island in a sea of abandoned opencast.”

Alan Macintyre, project manager for applicants EnergieKontor, said: “We are pleased with the planner’s recommendation to approve our Over Hill Wind Farm project. Since the start of the application process we have had a positive dialogue with the Planning and Economic Development service and have worked with them closely to ensure the application is one which benefits the local economy and community alike.

“In terms of economic benefit, the construction phase of the project will generate approximately £46m. We estimate that around £2.99m of that will be spent locally in Cumnock and New Cumnock with £13.39m to be spent in East Ayrshire and Scotland.

“EnergieKontor is committed to local procurement and will give significant weight to those companies that can demonstrate that they have an established presence, employ local people, and source materials within East Ayrshire.

“We have also engaged extensively with the local community groups in the Cumnock and Doon Valley area at all stages of the project. If consented, there will be a Community Benefit Fund of up to £4.25m over the 25 year lifespan of the project. This fund can be used to support local projects, initiatives and community groups that contribute to the well-being of residents and the socio-economic growth of local communities.”