A controversial plan to build a wind farm on a sensitive habitat near the Pentland Hills was thrown out by councillors yesterday.
Energy company E.ON UK wanted to build 18 turbines on a raised bog at Auchencorth Moss near Penicuik, but the scheme attracted about 2,400 objections and opposition from groups including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Pentlands and the Butterfly Conservation Society.
Naturalist David Bellamy described the plan as “an act of international vandalism” of a habitat which he said was as important as a tropical rain-forest in terms of nature conservation.
The decision by Midlothian Council’s planning committee came as the developers behind another controversial wind-farm proposal – to build 181 turbines on Lewis at a cost of about £500 million – met government officials yesterday in the hope of rescuing the controversial plan.
The Scottish Government has indicated that it is “minded to refuse” the proposal.
Meanwhile, Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan, who chaired the planning committee meeting during consideration of the Auchencorth application, said: “We have tried to balance the undoubted need for more renewable energy sources against the serious detrimental impact that the development would have had on the local environment.”
Protestor Tony Trewavis, a professor of plant biology at Edinburgh University, said the wind farm would have wiped out a colony of endangered large heath butterflies.
An E.ON spokesman said they were “considering our options” when asked whether they would appeal. “We’re obviously very disappointed with the outcome. We think it is an excellent scheme.”
By Ian Johnston
13 February 2008
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