Rural communities in East Renfrewshire and East Ayrshire are seeking legal advice after Scottish Power submitted an application to extend Whitelee Windfarm.
A group of East Renfrewshire and East Ayrshire residents known as the Protect Our Water Group, represented by Edinburgh QC John Campbell, has now begun a legal process against Scottish Power, claiming both private and public drinking water was infected by the original 140 turbine development.
It was even claimed at last week’s Neilston Community Council that several residents have fallen ill as a result of polluted water from the existing windfarm However Scottish Power has categorically denied that drinking water was contaminated by the construction of Whitelee Windfarm, and intend to stand their ground.
The application was refused at council level after East Ayrshire rejected the plans, however Scottish Power has appealed and the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals is now considering the case.
The application for an extension to the farm, northwest of the existing development, would see five more turbines towering more than 140 meters tall, installed should Scottish Government Ministers approve the plans.
ERC has been asked to clarify whether or not it has recorded any contamination of water sources within East Renfrewshire as a result of the original Whitelee Windfarm application.
Neilston Community Council heard that peer community councils in Fenwick, Waterside and Moscow had objected strongly to the proposal, claiming that water supplies had been seriously affected.
A representation from Moscow and Waterside Community Council said: “Moscow and Waterside Community Council would request that they be allowed to separately lodge a formal objection to this development on the grounds of potential impact on public and private water supplies.
“Information regarding the alleged effect of the previous construction of Whitelee original and Whitelee Extensions 1 and 2 upon the public water supply from Amlaird water treatment works has only recently come to light.
“We are now aware that during the construction period of Whitelee Windfarm Extensions 1 and 2, the water treatment works at Amlaird, Waterside, which relies on raw water from two public reservoirs within the designated Drinking Water Protection Zone now occupied by Whitelee Windfarm, repeatedly failed to produce wholesome water as defined by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (Scotland).
“In addition, several local residents suffered otherwise unexplained complete loss or pollution of their water supplies during the same period. Some of those residents had to install boreholes at their own expense, in order to reinstate previously satisfactory domestic water supplies.” Scottish Power is facing stern opposition from a third party opposition group called Protect Our Water Group (POWG).
The group, which is comprised of residents immediately local to the new extension plans on the Eaglesham Moors, has submitted its case of objection through John Campbell QC.
It not only believes that the application should be refused due to alleged water contamination, but also because of the adverse impact that the development would have on the surrounding countryside, including obstruction of sight lines and noise pollution.
The group also claims that an environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted by Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) is insufficient and that a decision can not be made based on the information provided.
The EIS is a report which is supposed to outline all potential impacts that the development could have on the surrounding environment, including affects on stability, wildlife and water.
East Ayrshire Council have also re submitted their objection to the plans before a public hearing is held in June this year, and have also said that they intend to participate in the public inquiry, Easy Renfrewshire Council have declined to participate.
One member of the POWG group, a practising Radiologist and doctor, outlined why she has lodged her objections, and her findings relating to the contamination of the water supply.
She said: “I live at East Collarie Farm and my water supply is likely to be from an underground spring coursing from the Whitelee Windfarm plateau.
“This water runs into a holding tank at Airtnoch Farm, which then serves 10 properties along the Hareshawmuir Road.
“SPR have never bothered to try and find the source of our water, even though this was a condition attached to planning consent for Whitelee and for extensions one and two.
“SPR were duty bound to protect our water supply as a condition of Whitelee and Whitelee Extension 1 and 2. The nearest turbine is approximately 300m from the holding tank and you will understand our concerns that our private water supply should have been protected in terms of quantity and quality.” However Scottish Power say that claims the drinking water has been contaminated is simply wrong.
A spokesman told The News: “The construction of Whitelee Windfarm has not adversely affected any private or public water supplies. Rigorous processes were in place to monitor and report on water quality during construction. We are aware of the objection to the planning application and, as is standard, we will be re-affirming our position as part of the Public Inquiry.” The application is currently up before the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals and a hearing date is set for June 11 at the Fenwick Hotel.