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SBC must consider Coldingham residents; Wind farm opponents to raise balloon

A decision on the planning application to build a 22 turbine wind farm at Drone Hill, Coldingham, will finally be made on Monday, November 12.

Opponents of the scheme have revealed plans to fly a large helium balloon at the proposed height of the turbines close to the site next Friday, November 9, to give residents an idea of the impact of the development on the landscape.

Coldingham residents have formed an action group STAG (Stop the Turbines Action Group) and their latest weapon in the fight is the claim that such a development would be against their human rights.

They argue that there are at least 18 properties or groups of properties closer than 2km to the proposed development, with more currently being built, and their right to enjoy their homes peacefully, enshrined in article 8 of the Act, would be infringed by the 22-turbine site. Research they have unearthed suggests that residents within this distance at other windfarms in the UK are already suffering symptoms of sleep deprivation, headaches, dizziness, unsteadiness, nausea, exhaustion, mood problems, and inability to concentrate due to audible and inaudible noise effects.

Scottish Ministers support a buffer zone of 2km between wind farms and the edges of settlements.

Members of the moorland community closest to the windfarm have written to Scottish Borders Council to urge them to turn down the plans. Their concerns are shared by many more who fall just outside the 2km zone, as well as the owners of the 132 static homes at Highview Caravan Park who will be 0.7-1km from the turbines, without the benefit of sound insulation provided by a conventional house.

Margery Robinson, whose home is just 885 metres from the closest turbine proposed said: “The wind industry has proved woefully inadequate at accurately predicting the noise levels which will be generated by their turbines. Unfortunately they commission reports from acoustical engineers who understand noise but not the effect it has on human beings. They claim that the noise has minimal consequence on humans and that infrasound is not a human health risk. However, experts in biomedical research have drawn different conclusions, supported by the experience of people who have been forced to live alongside these farms, with doctors in the UK, Portugal, Germany, The USA, Australia and New Zealand all observing the symptoms described above.”

Peter Haddon and Barbara Frey, authors of a report looking into noise radiation and the health effects of wind turbines near homes say: “The evidence strongly supports those who complain of adverse health effects when living within close proximity of wind turbines, particularly the impacts from noise and shadow flicker/strobe effects. Various noise characters, low frequency noise, infrasound, and shadow flicker, all delivered with a pulsating character over a prolonged period, pose health risks when developers site wind turbines too close to homes.”

They conclude: “A safe buffer zone of at least 2km should exist between family dwellings and industrial wind turbines. It is not necessarily only the loudness of the noise; it is also the character of the noise that is disturbing. The wind turbine noise is periodic; intermittent; whooshing or swishing; it interferes with outdoor activities at one’s home and with sleep or studying, ie it severely disrupts normal family life.”

A spokesperson for Coldingham STAG (Stop the Turbines Action Group) said: “We fully support the residents of the moor in this battle.The state, landowners and developers could potentially all find themselves held responsible under the Human Rights Act, article 8 which gives people the right to enjoy their home peacefully.

‘Scottish Planning Policy 6 says ‘broad criteria should be used to set out the considerations that developers should address in relation to local communities. These should ensure that proposals are not permitted if they would have a significant long term detrimental impact on the amenity of people living nearby’, while policy H2 regarding protection of residential amenity in the Scottish Borders Local Plan states ‘development that is judged to have an adverse impact on the amenity of existing or proposed residential areas will not be permitted’.

‘We believe that this application directly contravenes these policies and that the homes and family lives of all of these people on the moor could be destroyed if the development is allowed to proceed. We very much hope that councillors will think of the residents of Coldingham Moor when they take their decision on this wind farm.”

Anyone who photographs the blimp from their own property or from viewpoints around Berwickshire can e-mail the pictures to info@coldinghamstag.org.uk to be used as part of the campaign.

By Janice Gillie

The Berwickshire News

31 October 2007