The Scottish Borders could be ruined by a “21st-century Hadrian’s Wall” of wind turbines, campaigners have warned, after moves were made to overcome military objections to large-scale developments.
Energy companies are understood to have struck a series of behind-the-scenes deals to overcome military objections to large wind farms because of the potential threat to national security.
Tests show that wind turbines, whose spinning turbines are about the same size as a passenger jet’s wings, disrupt the radar systems currently in place around the coast.
But energy companies are believed to have overcome concerns by acquiring mobile radar stations, at a cost of £20 million each, to ensure Britain’s early warning systems remain effective in detecting enemy aircraft and missiles and air traffic control is protected.
It opens up large areas of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders to wind farms, as well as offshore locations in the North Sea off Norfolk.
The move has alarmed wind farm opponents, who claim a large increase in 400ft turbines will destroy previously unspoilt countryside and cause electricity bills to soar.
Currently about half of the income from onshore wind farms comes in the form of a consumer subsidy.
A deal is believed to have been signed in the past fortnight for a radar to be installed in the Scottish Borders, overcoming objections to one of Scotland’s most controversial wind farms, Fallago Rig in the Lammermuir Hills in the Borders, on land owned by the Duke of Roxburghe.
Environmental campaigner David Bellamy is among those who have spoken out against the North British Windpower development, which is made up of 48 400ft turbines and was approved by the Scottish Government last year.
Prof Bellamy said he signed up to the “Say No to Fallago” group because he shared their concerns about the impact of the scheme on the Lammermuir Hills.
He said it would blight the untouched core of a designated Area of Great Landscape Value.
Mark Rowley, who leads the Say No to Fallago campaign, said: “If even a fraction of the extra schemes are consented, this important gateway to Scotland will become a 21st-century Hadrian’s Wall made of 400ft turbines stretched across some of the finest landscapes in Scotland.”
Opponents also say that the £20m cost of the radar systems shows how profitable wind farms are, thanks to a consumer subsidy introduced by the last Labour government to encourage renewable energy projects.
Dr John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said: “The 27GW of wind power thought by Government to be enabled over the next decade if aviation objections are lifted will cost the electricity consumer approximately £164m in subsidy alone over the lifetime of the wind turbines, around 25 years.”
North British Windpower has confirmed a contract was signed to buy the Lockheed Martin radar, and it is thought other energy companies with plans for wind farms in the area will contribute to the cost.
It is estimated that Fallago Rig will generate around £875m for the developers, half of it in the form of a consumer subsidy. Shareholders of NBW include Stella Tennant, model and granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
A spokesman for RenewableUK, a renewable energy trade body, said: “The wind industry has been striving for a solution to radar issues for many years, and we’ve made significant progress.”