A controversial £200 million windfarm development which faced an onslaught of opposition has been given the green light by Scottish ministers.
That means CRE Energy can press ahead with the construction of 71 turbines at Harestanes south west of Moffat.
It’s the end of a saga which began back in March 2004 and saw a major local inquiry last summer.
The move strengthens the fears of objectors that the M74 corridor could be become a windfarm dominated area.
Airtricity wants to put up a further 161 turbines on the hills south of Biggar.
The Harestanes turbines will reach a height of 411 feet and will generate 213 Megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to supply 120,000 homes.
Last year Scottish Executive Reporter David Gordon spent five weeks in Moffat taking evidence during a public local inquiry sparked by the council’s decision to refuse the application in the wake of strong opposition from the public.
Mr Gordon also spent three weeks looking at the Upper Clyde application and a decision is still under consideration.
However, a Scottish Government spokesman said the Reporter had found in favour of the Harestanes application.
Announcing the decision energy minister Jim Mather said it was time for Scotland to harness its “vast potential” to generate electricity from renewable energy.
He said: “The evidence being that at the moment, the combined generation potential of the renewable energy projects currently with Scottish Ministers amounts to up to six gigawatts of electricity.
“The proposal at Harestanes will provide enough power for 120,000 homes, another step to fulfilling our green energy potential.
“Ministers agree with the Reporter and have granted consent subject to conditions.”
The public inquiry attracted opposition from a number of groups based as far away as groups stretch from Ayrshire, Berwickshire, Midlothian and Northumberland.
Local protest group, Trees Not Turbines, Save the Ae Forest, gave evidence to the inquiry claiming the development would do serious damage to the local landscape, wildlife and tourist trade.
Dumfries MSP Dr Elaine Murray has also voiced opposition to the development although she always suspected it would get the go ahead.
Disappointed Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell said: “Whilst I am a supporter of renewable energy, a development of this size is simply inappropriate for rural Dumfries and Galloway – particularly when it could be next to so many other developments, taking into account their accumulative impact along with other major windfarm developments in the area.”
Sep 12 2007
By Doug Archibald
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