Eisenhower's granddaughter in wind-farm battle

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The Independent Online

The granddaughter of General Dwight Eisenhower has joined with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) to fight the latest battle over the construction of wind turbines in Scotland.

Susan Eisenhower, head of Washington DC's Eisenhower Institute foreign policy and security think-tank, seems an improbable advocate for the preservation of the Scottish landscape. But Culzean Castle, an 18th-century Robert Adam creation owned by the National Trust on the rugged Ayrshire coast, has long been precious to the Eisenhower family. The general was rewarded with its breathtaking top-floor apartment at the end of the Second World War, in recognition of the part he played in commanding Scottish troops and overcoming the Nazi threat. "It is a place I can relax," he once wrote of Culzean, (pronounced Cullane).

Ms Eisenhower is determined to prevent a £20m development at Knoweside Hill, three miles north of the castle, incorporating 250ft turbines which members of one green lobby claim will destroy the views from Culzean.

Ms Eisenhower, who has lodged a formal protest with South Ayrshire Council, said: "There are many places where wind farms can be built, but there is only one Culzean Castle with its magnificent sweep of views. My grandfather loved Culzean Castle and it is a place enjoyed by thousands of Scots and overseas visitors every year.The setting is absolutely irreplaceable. It should be protected."

Michael Hunter, NTS's west region director, said: "This is the first time the trust has objected to a wind farm, as we generally support renewable energy developments. However, we are strongly opposed because of the damage to one of Scotland's most significant heritage sites." NTS fears the turbines will deter some of the 200,000 visitors a year to the castle and its adjoining country park.

Resistance to attempts to harvest the winds which provide Scotland with a rich source of renewable energy are becoming increasingly bitter. Notwithstanding the Scottish Executive's pledge that 40 per cent of Scotland's electricity should come from renewable energy sources by 2020, the deputy enterprise minister Allan Wilson refused permission on Friday for a 24-turbine wind farm near Crieff in Perthshire, to preserve the area's "natural beauty." Opposition is even more entrenched on the island of Lewis, where 234 turbines are planned. A report in April estimated that the number of wind turbines in Scotland would have to almost double over the next four years for renewable energy targets to be met.

A second front has been opened in the battle for Knoweside by Historic Scotland, the Scottish government's heritage agency. The Scottish Natural Heritage agency has also endorsed the campaign.

The Culzean proposal is for 15 wind turbines on 310 hectaresowned by the trustees of the Cassillis and Culzean Estate, who stand to make millions of pounds.

The wind farm developer, Banks Group, claims views of the turbines from the castle and grounds are "limited" and that local communities will benefit with £500,000 for community projects over the farm's 25-year lifespan. "We are aware that there are some concerns about our proposals and we have met with these organisations to discuss them in detail," said Phil Dyke, renewable energy director at Banks.