An action group and nearly 300 individual objectors are on course to win the first round of their battle to halt an eight-turbine windfarm being built on scenic Dunion Hill near Jedburgh.
The Southern can reveal that planning officials of Scottish Borders Council are recommending that councillors next week reject the detailed bid of Windjen Power Ltd to develop the prominent site, nearly 1,000ft above sea level and two miles south of the town on Bedrule Farm.
“It’s fantastic news, but the war is not yet won,” said Andrew Nicholson, chairman of the Dunion Hill Conservation Group (DHCG).
That campaigning body, whose members include quantity surveyors and geologists, was formed shortly after Windjen announced its plans two years ago and in the wake of several public meetings. It recently commissioned its own 70-page environmental impact assessment (EIA) as a direct counter to a similar document from Emtec, the renewables consultancy representing Windjen.
The applicants want to generate electricity for 25 years from eight turbines, 101m-high from base to upper blade tip. Each will generate 2.5MW and be connected to the National Grid via a substation and underground cables. New access roads will be required. The DHCG alleges the Emtec evaluation of the impact of the windfarm is inaccurate across a range of criteria.
Ian Aikman, SBC’s development control manager, appears to agree in a report due to go to Monday’s meeting of the planning committee.
“The proposed windfarm will have a significant adverse impact on the landscape character of the Dunion [and nearby Black Law ridge] and the wider countryside,” states Mr Aikman.
“The development would be highly visible within a 5km radius to a wide variety and number of receptors [local residents].”
Emtec assessed that just 19 properties out of 122 in the 5km zone would experience “significant visual effects”.
The DHCG claims the omission of houses in Lanton, Denholm and Jedburgh gives an inaccurate understanding of the size of the population who would regularly view the power station. The actual figure was
Visibility is the lynchpin of the dissenters’ case and the DHCG quotes from the following Scottish Natural Heritage landscape assessment of Dunion Hill: “Perception of this landscape might be said to closely encompass the essence of the Border heartland”.
“With spectacular views across Teviotdale to the north, the Merse to the north-east, the Jed Water valley to the east and the Cheviots to the south, this is quite unlike any other windfarm site already approved in the region,” said Mr Nicholson.
“It will have a huge impact on the tourism on which the Borders economy and local businesses increasingly depend. For instance, the popular Borders Abbeys Way would lead walkers between two of the Windjen turbines.”
The council has received 289 letters of objection, reinforcing concerns over the effect on walking, cycling and horseriding and claiming no local economic benefit would accrue.
By Andrew Keddie
6 September 2007
Dunion Hill Conservation Group: dunionhill-conservation.org.uk
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