A campaign to stop a 48 turbine windfarm being built at a Berwickshire beauty spot stepped up a gear this week when community councils gathered to voice their protests.
Fury erupted last week after it was revealed that council planners are now recommending approval of the turbines at Fallago Ridge.
The proposed windfarm – which would be in the middle of the council’s own designated area of great landscape value (AGLV) – was initially opposed by Scottish Borders Council.
Now, however, North British Windpower Ltd have revised their application and reduced the number of turbines from 60 to 48.
Brian Frater, head of planning and building services, said last week that the plan was now quite different.
“They have reduced the scheme and changed it so we felt it tipped the balance.
“The area of great landscape value is a fact we have to consider but it does not mean that development is prohibited,” he said.
Community councils surrounding Fallago Ridge strongly disagree and have urged the members of the council’s development and building control committee to visit the site before coming to any decision.
The committee is due to meet again on February 2 and afterwards will send their views to the Scottish Executive for consideration.
A site visit was made by the members of the committee when the application was first made in 2005 but since then another windfarm has been built at Black Hill.
With one already at Crystal Rig – soon to be extended to 81 turbines – and two more applications for farms at Johnscleugh and Aitkengall the objectors fear the Lammermuirs will be swamped by turbines.
“If this goes ahead it will become an industrialised landscape,” said Dave Lochhead, spokesman for Cranshaws, Ellemford, and Longformacus Community Council.
Gordon and Westruther Community Council have also just rewritten to SBC restating their concerns.
Chairman David Long pointed out that the AGLV was included in the council’s Local Plan.
“If it is torn up for a windfarm then they are just going to lose credibility,” said Dr Long. “We also don’t like the fact that windfarms are trying to bribe us with cash payments. Something like this should be judged on its merits and not on what they are going to pay us.”
The community council’s letter includes the following objections:
1. We believe the designation of the Lammermuir AGLV is vitally important for the protection of the Lammermuirs, and should not be torn up to allow a wind farm which will greatly damage the landscape and harm our rural environment for local people and visitors alike. Tearing up your own designation will undermine SBC’s credibility.
2. There is a very broad spectrum of local opposition to this development.
3. The context of Fallago Ridge has changed in view of the installation of the Black Hill Wind Farm and likely extensions to Dun Law and Crystal Rig. The need for a further one is consequently diminished (if indeed such a need ever existed).
4. The major financial incentives of Fallago Ridge benefit mostly a big landowner and corporate investors far away from the Borders. The main financial outcome for your constituents will be higher energy bills.”
The letter adds that the community council is aware that any decision by SBC may be overturned by the Scottish Executive
It continues: “Caving in to central government pressure will only serve to undermine local democracy in the Borders and the right of Borderers and SBC to have an important say on such important issues of our environment and heritage.”
Objector Richard Havers said he could not understand how the committee could make a decision without coming to see the site.
“If it were a new supermarket in Galashiels they would not make a decision without coming for a look.
“We need the councillors to visit the Lammermuirs to see for themselves what’s at stake, and the damage that’s already been done,” he said.
“The vast majority of the councillors on the committee are from outwith Berwickshire so it’s unlikely that many or any of them have been to the Lammermuirs in the last couple of months.”
Eyemouth councillor George Russell, who is on the committee, said: “I am reasonably relaxed as to whether there should be a site visit or not.”
North British Windpower Ltd this week pointed out that SBC landscape architect had approved even the original application.
The architect said: “It is unlikely that there are any other sites in the Borders, or indeed in Scotland, that can accommodate such a large windfarm with so little impact upon sensitive receptors.”
“In submitting a revised proposal for Fallago Rig we tried our very best to take on board the concerns of local people, planning officials and local councillors,” said a North British Windpower Ltd spokesman.
“The revised application in fact reduces the size of the proposed windfarm by over 25%. This in turn reduces the visual impact by over 33%.
“Of course, anything new in a remote area must to some extent affect that remoteness, but few, by definition, will see this. The choice is between a limited impact on those few and a much greater impact on the many.
“The council landscape architects and the planning officers have assessed the visual impact and the cumulative effect of other windfarms in the area.
“They are agreed that the area can accommodate the Fallago Rig proposal at the reduced scale. In addition, the pylon line that cuts right through the site provides an immediate link straight into the electricity grid network,” the spokesman said.
25 January 2007
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