Scotland's first public inquiry into plans for a wind farm was also the shortest wind farm inquiry in the UK to date. The surprise decision to conduct an inquiry into the application for 20, 500 kW turbines at Hare Hill in New Cumnock was all the more perplexing since there were no major objectors to the scheme. Both the local authorities whose areas the project straddled had given it the go ahead. "We felt there was no reason to justify a local public inquiry," says Hugh Melvin of Cumnock and Doon Valley District Council which had approved 17 turbines in its area. "It was totally unnecessary," he adds. Early objections by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Wildlife Trust were subsequently withdrawn after the applicant had provided them with further information, he says. Neither local authority was represented at the planning inquiry in late October. With no-one contesting the scheme, the hearing was concluded in a day. Accusations abound that the project was being used by the authorities as a test case to gain experience of dealing with a wind farm planning inquiry in Scotland. Even the Scottish Office can offer no convincing explanation. It was called to look into the possible impact on the local environment, says Robin Millar of the office.
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