The people of Coldingham are united in their opposition to a windfarm which has been earmarked for the area.
PM Renewables have proposed the development of a 22 turbine wind farm at Drone Hill on Coldingham Moor, although their application has not been met with a warm response from locals.
The farm of turbines, each measuring 76 metres in height, will stand either side of the A1107 road across the cliff tops if the development is given the green light by Scottish Borders Council’s Planning Committee.
Both Coldingham Community Council and Coldingham Stop The Turbines Action Group (STAG) have made their thoughts and feelings clear on the matter and hosted numerous meetings and sent dozens of letters to make their voices heard.
Coldingham Community Council held a special meeting on March 30, when the windfarm was the hot topic of discussion. Over 120 members of the public attended and the response was a firm thumbs down to the application.
The community council sent an official letter of opposition to Alasdair Maclean, planning officer at Scottish Borders Council on May 20, which clearly outlined their concerns in line with SBC’s own policies and plans.
The first of their grievances was in relation to Structure Plan Zoning.
Members of the community council are annoyed that Coldingham Moor was even cited as a potential location for windfarms as it has never been identified as an area of development.
The community council also drew attention to the impact such a development would have on the character of the landscape. Windfarms are traditionally situated on areas of largescale upland landscape, a category that Coldingham Moor doesn’t fall into, as it on a dished plateau.
In addition, there are no significant woodland features which may provide a backdrop, meaning that turbines will be highly visible.
Both the community council and STAG are concerned about the effect any windfarm development would have on residents who live in close proximity. There are 25 properties within the immediate 2.5km area and a further 32 in the 2.5-5km range. People in these houses are concerned they will have to deal with noise pollution on a daily basis and an overwhelming visual impact.
Marjorie Robinson, whose front door will be just 880 metres from one of the wind turbines, is concerned at just how big an impact any development will have on her day-to-day life.
“Having visited a host of other windfarms I am particularly disturbed about the noise. There’s no way real way of measuring just how big an effect noise can have but when visiting other farms I’ve walked a quarter of a mile away and still the sound was very intrusive.
“Road noise can be magnified and heavy lorries eventually go away but the noise of a wind turbine is constant and can vary depending on the weather.
“My husband also races and trails Border Collies and we’re worried about the effect the windfarm could have on their hearing and orientation.
“This site isn’t a deserted area, it’s a busy corridor and I know many people share my opinion that it is completely inappropriate for a windfarm. If things continue at the present rate before long they’re going to be in everyone’s back yards in the Borders!”
Before any windfarms are put in place, vast amounts of equipment will need to be carried to the Drone Hill site which ties in with the community council’s next grievance – the effect on access routes.
They believe that the transportation process will have a severe impact on village roads and footpaths which will become a permanent disfigurement because of the need to keep routes available for windafrm maintenance purposes.
This is a concern that is shared by Raquel Simpson of STAG who says everyone in the village will be affected by the windfarm in some way.
“Although I don’t live in close proximity to the proposed site, I’ll be affected by any widening of the roads and I feel it’s unacceptable to have 9000 HGV vehicles travelling up and down what is essentially a country road.
“The fact that all this is rumoured to take 14 weeks the impact will be constant and everyone in Coldingham will be affected in one way or another.”
Many areas in Berwickshire are reliant on tourism to boost their economy and this is something which Coldingham Community Council will suffer as a result of any windfarm being given the go-ahead.
In their letter to Alasdair Maclean, the community council point out that caravan sites close to Drone Hill and pathways along the moor will be particularly affected by any such development.
They also point to the fact that Scottish Borders Council themselves have committed to supporting the re-establishment of a historic pathway from Coldingham to Dowlaw, which will cross the windfarm terrain.
Raquel Simpson said it was shocking that such an important industry would suffer as a direct result of a windfarm being built.
“Visit Scotland have conducted a survey which found that 26 per cent of visitors wouldn’t visit or return to a place if there was a windfarm in close proximity.”
“A huge amount of people, not just just in Coldingham but from all over the region rely heavily on tourism to make a living and it’s unacceptable that people will have their livelihoods taken away from them.”
The community council’s final objection was in relation to what they called the ‘Shadow Flicker Impact’. They said that this will not only affect neighbouring properties but also traffic travelling along nearby roads.
Once again this is an objection which has also been highlighted by STAG.
Raquel Simpson said: “For drivers travelling along the A1107 it will be impossible not to be distracted by these huge windmills and they will also be visible from the A1- a road with fast moving traffic which is already prone to lots of accidents.
She concluded by saying: “We all recognise that we live in a beautiful area and no-one expects the countryside to stay the same forever but at the same time we have a responsibility to make sure it isn’t taken over completely.
“The final decision is to be made over the summer so people need to make their views heard now, this time next year it may well be too late.”
By Simon Duke
27 June 2007