Residents oppose wind farm plan
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Community councils have their say at public inquiry.
Into the last week of the Fallago Rig wind farm inquiry and it was the turn of local community councils to raise their concerns.
Over the past few weeks Reporter Karen Heyward has heard from a number of witnesses including landscape architects appearing on behalf of applicant North British Windpower and representatives from both Scottish Borders Council and the Ministry of Defence.
And the evidence given on Tuesday suggested that the majority of local residents are giving a resounding thumbs down to the application for 48 turbines at Fallago Rig.
Chair of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longforamcus Community Association and former chair of the Community Council, Maureen Ferguson discussed a survey aimed at the surrounding area.
This was conducted in September last year and contacted 117 households, representing 209 people. Of the 132 replies 78% stating they were against any windfarm development at Fallago Rig and 81% were against any further wind turbines anywhere in the Lammermuir Hills.
David Lochhead, current chair of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council, and also representing Gordon and Westruther, told the inquiry that in his opinion the Lammermuir landscape “can’t absorb any further turbines without serious damage to its character and quality.”
He added that if the proposed windfarm went ahead at Fallago Rig it would create a ‘chain’ of turbines and destroy any sense of wildness in the central plateau and blight the remaining unobstructed long distance views.
In his precognition Mr Lochhead stated that local communities had originally supported the idea of windfarms but have “moved from an initial position of support to one of opposition to any further development.”
As well as the irreversable impact on the landscape, he said that there was an increased understanding by residents of the limitation of the contribution commercial wind power can make to the overall supply of energy.
Similar to the objection raised by Squadron Leader Neal Henley who appeared on behalf of the Ministry of Defence last week, Mr Lochhead highlighted the ‘cumulative impact’ of the proposed windfarm as a major concern for the community council.
He told those present at Duns Volunteer Hall that “the cumulative impact of the proposed turbines together with the existing and agreed turbines will have different and profoundly damaging effects on the area.”
Like other witnesses during the course of the inquiry, Mr Lochhead pointed to the fact that there are currently 73 turbines in the Lammermuir Hills and the addition of a further 134 will have a dramatic impact.
Also speaking out against the North British Windpower application was Mark Rowley, who works for a number of high profile tourism businesses in Scotland as well as being vice-chair of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus CC, said that tourism was a vital part of the “fragile economy” of the Lammermuirs and the risk to the present and future of the industry should be recognised. He did acknowledge however that currently there is no clear-cut evidence on just how much windfarms can affect tourism, and this was an issue also addressed by Paul Cullen QC, appearing on behalf of the applicant.
The various parties involved in the inquiry are to due to pay a visit to the Fallago Rig site today, February 21, before closing their cases tomorrow. The final decision on the application rests with Scottish Ministers.
By Simon Duke
21 February 2008
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