A DECISION on the Rigghill windfarm has been delayed - after hackers infiltrated environmental regulators' website.

Cyber criminals have published over 4,000 files belonging to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency after breaking into their site just before Christmas.

The planning decision on the controversial development to the north of Largs had been expected last October but was delayed for further community consultation - and has now been held up again as a result of the data breach.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency was hacked on Christmas Eve and saw 1.2GB of data stolen from its digital systems, including databases, contracts and strategy documents.

SEPA chiefs refused to pay a ransom for the return of the information, with its chief executive Terry A’Hearn hitting out at the fraudsters.

He said that they didn't want to use public finance to pay serious and organised criminals intent on causing disruption to public services and extorting public funds.

Mr A'Hearn stated that SEPA is 'working quickly with multi-agency partners', including the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), to 'recover and analyse data '.

He added “Police Scotland is working closely with SEPA and our partners at Scottish Government and the wider UK law enforcement community to investigate and provide support in response to this incident."

The cyber crime resulted in a 'significant systems outage' which affected its contact centre phone lines and email.

The matter of the Rigghill delay was raised at this month's Largs Community Council meeting, sparking lively debate.

Community councillor Drew Cochrane said: "The wind turbines at New Cumnock will be the highest ever at 830 feet tall. They will be twice the size of Rigghill, so I'm content."

However Councillor Ian Murdoch said: "It is not about the height, it is about the capacity at 4.2MW, that is the issue. When you get to that size, they should be off shore - they shouldn't be near populated areas.

"Setback distance for turbines that size is 10km - and in this case one of the properties is just 628m away. The area will become uninhabitable in my opinion."