After generating huge interest across Berwickshire and beyond, a controversial planning application has been rejected by Scottish Borders Council after it was decided that it contravened key council policies.
Meeting on Monday, the Council’s Development and Building Control Committee, decided to follow the recommendation of planning officials and unanimously put a halt to the plans to have a windfarm on Coldingham Moor.
Since it was originally lodged last year, the application has sparked a vast difference in opinion, gathering responses on a local, national and even international level.
After learning of the recommendation to refuse last week, the firm behind the plans, PM Renewables stood by the fact that they felt their application represented “an excellent project,” and were shocked when it failed to impress Planning and Building Standards.
The proposals sited the building of 22 turbines, each standing at 76 metres tall, at Drone Hill, close to the busy A1107 route.
In their final protest against the development, opposition group Coldingham STAG (Stop the Turbines Action Group) highlighted the sheer scale of the turbines by flying a blimp at 76 metres on the site of the potential windfarm.
This coincided with a site visit by a number of local politicians, including SBC councillors and MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont.
Following the visit, Mr Lamont told The Berwickshire News: “Although I am not an opponent of wind farms as a source of energy, I do have my concerns over the location of this particular development. Our natural landscape makes the Borders a beautiful place to live and that is something we should work hard to preserve.
“We also need to be questioning the government’s emphasis on wind power over other renewable sources. I would support the use of wind power as part of a balanced approach to addressing our future energy needs.”
Formed shortly after the PM Renewables plans were announced, Coldingham STAG have been very vocal in their opposition and sited a whole host of reasons as to why the windfarm shouldn’t have gone ahead.
The group includes a number of people who lived close to the Drone Hill site, some only 880 metres away, and they were particularly worried about what effect the turbines could have on their daily lives, from the visual impact of having the windfarm on their doorstep to any noise generated from the technology.
The repercussions for the local tourist economy was also something highlighted in STAG’s official letter of opposition, with them pointing to to findings from Visit Scotland that the building of a windfarm in an area would put off an estimated 26 per cent of tourists.
Another issue which featured strongly in STAG’s objections and the report by Head of Planning and Building Standards, Brian Frater, was the fact that Coldingham Moor lies in a ‘coastal moorland’ landscape, which is viewed as unsuitable for large scale developments like windfarms.
Speaking of their relief that the application had been rejected, a spokesperson for STAG said: “We are obviously delighted with the decision reached by the planning committee, particularly as the vote against the wind farm application was unanimous.
“Councillors highlighted many of the planning issues which have been referred to by STAG for months – namely that it would be a blight on tourism, that the plans could not be absorbed by the landscape, and that the impact on sensitive receptors – ie people’s homes and the 140 residential caravans at High View – would be unacceptable.
“Coldingham Moor is a beautiful place which is enjoyed by both people and wildlife and we are very glad that in this case the vote has gone with those who wish to protect this for future generations. We all accept that we need to tackle the issue of reducing carbon emissions, but this needs to be done in an appropriate fashion and in appropriate settings. Coldingham Moor is simply the wrong place for a wind farm and we would like to congratulate and thank everyone at Scottish Borders Council on reaching this decision.”
East Berwickshire councillor, David Raw echoed these sentiments and added that a review is needed before any more landscape comes under threat.
“The fact that Councillors from all three parties, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Scottish National united on the issue was a victory for common sense – and a tribute to the campaigning efforts of Coldingham residents’ group STAG. Having seen the height of the STAG barrage balloon last Friday nobody could doubt the impact the PM proposal would have on what is a very precious and dramatic landscape.
“There is a need now for a national review of how many wind farms any particular area can take to reach national targets.
“A free for all will simply result in the danger of establishing a chain along the length of our outstanding coast line by linking up the proposal at Halidon Hill in Northumberland through to East Lothian.
By Simon Duke
14 November 2007
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