AMBITIOUS plans for a �35 million wind farm near Bonhill have suffered a blow after a key community group knocked back the idea.

Almost three quarters of residents who turned out at a Kilmaronock Community Council (KCC) meeting in Gartocharn rejected proposals for the Merkins Farm renewable site.

The vote came as the council called for community views on the plan following Lomond Energy's formal planning application last month.

The outcome showed something of a turnaround in local opinion, with 70 per cent of the community responding in favour of the development in a KCC questionnaire handed out just under a year ago.

Opponents fear any development could have a devastating impact on tourism - which many see as a mainstay of the area.

Anti-windfarm campaigner Sally Page, of Stop Loch Lomond Wind Farms, told the Reporter after the meeting: "If it went ahead this wind farm would be seen for miles around.

"Lomond Energy gave a full presentation with slides but one interesting point was there were no visuals showing what it was going to look like.

"If we have something special we shouldn't spoil it."

If successful, the wind farm will be West Dunbartonshire's first major green energy project and its developers have said it will bring much needed income to fund local community projects.

Steve Macken (left), of Lomond Energy, said: "I fielded a lot of questions from the public audience. There were probably more protesters there than people who were supportive of the proposal but what was interesting was the questions were based on wind farms in general rather than the type we are proposing to develop at Merkins.

"The community council carried out a poll of residents last year in Gartocharn which came out in support of the proposal and I think that's a robust measure of the community feeling over all.

"We feel this is the right move for West Dunbartonshire and will continue to press that point home."