COUNTRYSIDE campaigners have declared victory in battle to block a controversial wind farm on the outskirts of Largs.

Scottish Ministers were asked to rule on the proposal to erect a string of 150-metre high turbines at Rigghill behind the town after the initial bid was rejected by North Ayrshire Council.

Developers ERG Group and Rigghill Windfarm Limited appealed the local authority's decision - but this week it was confirmed that the appeal has been thrown out.

Scottish Government reporter David Liddell told the News: "The proposed development does not accord overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which justify granting planning permission."

His findings said that although the wind farm would deliver energy infrastructure and support climate change mitigation, its impact on the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area - as well as the historic Routenburn Road - was unacceptable.

Mr Liddell added: "Significant landscape and visual effects are unavoidable for a commercial scale wind farm, however it is notable how many landscape character units would experience significant effects and I have a particular concern about the effects on Brisbane Glen.

"The elevation of the site means that visibility from the other side of the Clyde is more widespread.

"I have particular concerns about the nature of the adverse visual effects from Barr Farm Road, from Brisbane Glen, the Knock, Cumbrae, Rothesay and the Wemyss Bay ferry. I also think there would be a significant adverse effect on the setting of Skelmorlie as viewed from some locations, such as Cumbrae."

Mr Liddell also said he has 'significant concerns' about the amenity of Routenburn Road - known locally as the 'Red Road' both during the construction period and thereafter.

Residents told the News they are 'delighted' at the decision.

Campaigner Archie Burleigh, who lives at The Meigle, said that 'common sense' had prevailed.

Mr Burleigh added: "These turbines would have been huge and thankfully the Red Road and surrounding area will be preserved for generations to come.

"It is also a victory for tourism as this would have been a major blight on the landscape."

Councillor Ian Murdoch has also campaigned against the turbine development.

He added: "I am delighted as the access through Routenburn Road would have been changed forever.

"I am delighted the land has been saved for all my constituents, this is welcome news."

The council's planning committee previously unanimously rejected the development after it was found to breach ten policies within the local development plan, while all of the community councils in the area also opposed against the proposal.

Tom Marshall, who was head of planning at North Ayrshire Council was the application was lodged, said: "That is great news and reflects the decision of the planning committee at North Ayrshire Council .

"I am very grateful to the reporter who took on board all the reasons the council gave to refuse the original application.

"It was the wrong location for these turbines."

A spokesperson for Rigghill Wind Farm said: “We are extremely disappointed by the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) decision to dismiss our case.

"Our proposal had the potential to produce enough electricity annually to power the equivalent of 34,729 UK households (roughly half of all households in North Ayrshire) and bring up to £210,000 per annum into the local economy through Community Benefit Funding.

“We believe this is a missed opportunity to respond to the climate emergency now for the benefit of future generations, a missed opportunity to create a deeper understanding and broader accessibility to the roman history of the region, and a missed opportunity to bring socio-economic benefits to the local and wider regions.”