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March 27, 2008

Longformacus residents have suffered enough: BT wind farm plans knocked back

Filed under: Scotland — Wind Watch Highlight @ 5:44 am

BT’s plans to erect a 60m anemometer mast near Longformacus, to see if the site would be suitable for the generation of energy from wind power, fell at the first hurdle this week when local councillors turned down their planning application.

For those living in Longformacus and the surrounding area the possibility that this could lead to yet another wind farm on their doorstep, when they are already surrounded by turbines at Crystal Rig, Black Hill, and awaiting the outcome of the public inquiry into Fallago Rig, would be a step too far and objections have come from residents who in the past have remained quiet on the subject.

The 40+ letters of objection to the application were supported by the majority of members of Berwickshire Area Committee, Councillor Trevor Jones, reflecting the general feeling of the local population when he said: “In my opinion the people of Longformacus have suffered enough.

“I absolutely endorse the comments made by the community council. There are 40 plus letters of objection at the last count and I believe it’s unnecessary and propose we reject the application.

“I thought this was some kind of joke when I saw an application for an anemometer for measuring wind speed. I don’t know of any place in the world that already has such an outstanding amount of documentation and analysis on wind speed.”

The application from BT was to erect the temporary 60m anemometer on land north west of Glebe Cottage, Longformacus, for a period of three years. The anemometer would be operational for two years and the remaining 12 months would allow installation and decommissioning.

Planning officials had recommended approval of the application on the grounds that it was temporary, the excavation work would be limited and that “it is imperative that the proposal to install, maintain and decommission the anemometer is assessed on its own merits”.

Berwickshire Area Committee chairman Councillor Michael Cook was the only one of the six Berwickshire councillors who felt they had no alternative but to approve the plans and that they should not be swayed by the possibility of a future application for another wind farm in the area if the anemometer’s results proved positive.

“I think we have got to be careful we aren’t making a judgement about meteorological conditions in the Lammermuirs or possible wind farms,” said Councillor Cook.

“I understand the level of feeling about it. I understand people of Longformacus feel this is the thin edge of the wedge again. But this isn’t a planning basis to object.”

Councillor Jim Fullarton replied: “I think it’s right that you express concerns about having planning reasons for this.”

He added that he found it ironic that a new developer had come in prior to the outcome of the public inquiry into the proposed wind farm at nearby Fallago Rig, adding that they may well find they have wasted their money.

Councillor David Raw suggested that the committee could object on planning grounds, quoting the council’s own policies N11 and N14, referring to the impact of the 168ft anemometer in an area of Great Landscape Value and also the possible detrimental effect of excavation work on a site within 300 metres of two archeological sites, a fact confirmed by local archeologist, Clive Warsop.

Delighted at the support they received from local councillors, Mark Rowley, vice chairman of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council, said: “The community council were delighted and humbled at the range and extent of objection to this proposal by BT. Objections came from the widest range of residents, from people who had never been moved to object before and even from people who had previously supported other wind farms. There was outrage from those born here many years ago and from those drawn to the Lammermuirs more recently. The outpouring of support has been incredible, with many villagers and wider Lammermuir residents being supported by objections from all of the major landowners – the common theme? – Enough is enough!

“After all over 200 turbines are consented and due for construction in the area already. People were dismayed that BT notified no neighbours or adjoining landowners. With no publicity from the applicant, until it had coverage in the Berwickshire, virtually no one knew of its existence. Once the Berwickshire News ran the story and published letters the telephone rang with people asking ‘How do we object?’

“This a true victory for local democracy and common sense.

“Despite an apparently cynical attempt from a huge corporate developer to sneak in an application so soon after the public enquiry, local councillors have listened to those who live in, work in or just love the Lammermuirs and they have demonstrated that this exceptional Area of Great Landscape Value deserves and demands our protection.

“As well as being our home, this magical landscape has a huge potential as a tourism and recreational resource would be a huge help to the fragile local economy. The further destruction of the landscape with more and more industrial intrusions will severely damage our greatest asset, our landscape, whilst the developers have demonstrated no social or economic benefits that would result.

“There was widespread outrage at the timing of this proposal, being lodged in the week following the closure of the Fallago Ridge Public Enquiry and ahead of the publication of that report.

“Though this was an objection to a mast and not a wind farm – a 60m high industrial structure would be hugely damaging to this Area of Great Landscape Value. It would tower over the village, be visible from the majority of homes and compromise the setting of a large number of listed buildings. Located close to the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Wrunklaw Fort, designated as being of ‘national or international importance’ it would clearly damage the setting of a number of archaeological sites and visually help to link the Black Hill site with Crystal Rig – and potentially Fallago.”

By Janice Gillie

The Berwickshire News

26 March 2008

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