CAMPAIGNERS claim a much-loved countryside roads could be ‘destroyed’ by being widened to cater for lorries and HGVs delivering construction materials for a controversial wind farm.
Concerns have been raised about the impact of heavy traffic in Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride during the building of 150m high turbines near Skelmorlie.
Parking restrictions would also be required in Largs Main Street during the transportation of bulky wind farm machinery according to traffic management plans which have now been lodged with North Ayrshire Council.
During the peak construction phase, there will be an estimated 62 journeys per day.
One campaigner told the News that Routenburn Road will be ‘destroyed as we know it’.
The move has sparked a flood of objections on the council’s website while Independent councillor Ian Murdoch has also voiced opposition.
He said: “I have grave concerns on how this will affect the environment and the population. I personally have nothing against wind turbines as long as they are in the right location, but these are among the largest turbines in the UK. As far as I am concerned, they should be out at sea.
“It will take a long time for our tourism industry to recover after COVID-19 and this is the last thing it needs.
“Turbine developments of this size should not be in such close proximity to local communities.”
Campaigner Ian Dippie, of the Save the Gretas pressure group, said: “The proposed wind farm site is in Clyde Muirshiel land right next to the Coig tourism route. By starting to dig up roads we will hamper that.
“It seems so close to the local community and bigger than anything else in the current area in terms of height.
“The Red Road is very popular in the town and it is also used as an access to Knock Hill.
“There have been well over 100 comments about the application on the council website.”
Applicants, the Rigghill Wind Farm Ltd, say the works will only be during the construction phase and claim they are ‘temporary and reversible’.
They do however admit there will be increased traffic volumes on Craigmarloch Road, Routenburn Road and the A78 during the construction and decommissioning phases.
The proposed development of 10 wind turbines could power up to 34,000 homes.
The site to the east of Skelmorlie – Rigghill – is owned by two private parties, with whom the applicant has a lease agreement.
The developers argue that the closest turbine is over 1.5km from Skelmorlie and due to its geographical location residents ‘would not experience significant visual impact upon their amenity’.
Normal construction hours will be between 7.30am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 6pm at weekends.
A spokeswoman for Righill said: “In the Environmental Impact Assessment for the development, it states that the Routenburn Road will be repaired and upgraded in accordance with council planning regulations to make it suitable for the proposed traffic. All improvements and use of the road will be subject to further planning conditions and it is likely the council will require a road bond put in place a transport bond to ensure funding for improvements.
“There will be a detailed Traffic Management Plan that will be agreed with the council and be tightly controlled. There would be an average of 15 HGVs using the roads per day in peak construction months and abnormal loads will be transported at off peak hours to avoid traffic restrictions as much as possible.
“Through our socio-economic analysis it has been surmised that the works required on Routenburn roads and the movement of abnormal loads along the roads has been assessed as having potential minor adverse effects on the recreation assets of the core paths.
“We have reviewed over 140 sites and put through a rigorous feasibility study, inclusive of transport assessments, and Rigghill Wind Farm stood up to the assessments as a positive site for development.“