LOCALS fighting to prevent the construction of a 'monstrous' 40ft chimney outside their homes have lost their battle with the council.

Residents this week were told the council will not u-turn on the decision to build a biomass boiler system at the Flatt Road housing development.

Despite acknowledging that the original consultation was flawed, the council says that the current plans is the most environmentally-friendly solution.

Campaigners were outraged when they uncovered plans for the industrial-sized heating unit and believe the council was not transparent during the original consultation process and called on the council to instead use a gas-only build.

At a fresh public consultation in October, over 100 people protested that the plan would be an eyesore, spout hazardous fumes and be an additional cost to taxpayers.

Gordon McArthur has been leading the campaign and says he is disappointed by the decision.

He said: "We are upset, but not in the least surprised.

"The developer started construction of the energy centre base almost two weeks ago, so it seems this decision was taken and was never going to change.

"NAC were simply going through a tick in the box process and are happy for the the taxpayer to pay half a million pound more for the privilege of having this eyesore outside of the sheltered housing residents' windows.

"We now want to discuss what type of mitigation actions they are willing to take to screen this.

"I've put forward some proposals and have requested a meeting with NAC in the new year to discuss them.

"Unfortunately the chimney is impossible to screen or disguise and will be a continual eyesore in this part of town for decades to come."

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: "We have considered carefully the concerns of surrounding residents, future tenants and those who provided us with feedback at the events and would like to reassure them that the scheme will pose absolutely no health risk.

"Our Environmental Health team has ensured that the proposal complies with all relevant regulation and legislation.

"We do recognise there will be a visual impact and will seek to mitigate this through landscape design, screening and possible addition of design features.

"We recently declared a climate emergency and are absolutely determined to make a difference. This heating scheme produces approximately 14 times less carbon dioxide compared with a gas only solution and is very much aligned with our vision of making North Ayrshire Council carbon free.

"This was the important factor when deciding to develop this facility."

The spokesperson added: "We accept that the information provided at the original consultation events did not fully reflect the nature and extent of the district heating scheme due to the timing of the consultation.

"As a result of this project, we have changed our processes and will, moving forward, seek a Certificate of Lawful Use Development (CLUD) for Housing projects.

"We will also apply this process to the Flatt Road project and retrospectively apply for a CLUD to provide a formal record our permitted development rights."