A wind farm has been given the go-ahead despite a local campaign to keep the turbines out of an area of unspoilt countryside.
Plans to build the £25 million development at Langhope Rig, an area of countryside three miles west of Ashkirk in the Borders, were cleared following a five-day public inquiry.
There were about 350 letters against siting the wind farm in an area described as a tranquil spot popular with walkers and tourists. The plans for ten 400ft turbines submitted by Airtricity were originally turned down by Scottish Borders Council, which decided the impact on the landscape would be unacceptable.
But a Scottish Government planning reporter reversed the decision following an appeal by Airtricity.
Carolyn Riddell-Carre, the environment and planning representative on Scottish Borders Council, said rural areas were expected to take too many wind farms. “It’s like fly-tipping,” she said. “People think of open space and think they’ll heap things on it, whether it’s rubbish or a bunch of turbines.”
Ms Riddell-Carre said the turbines would be much better placed near built-up areas close to the national grid. “If they are really as welcome as that, they should have them on top of Arthur’s Seat,” she said.
“If these were called wind factories rather than wind farms people wouldn’t love them so much. These are enormous wind turbines. They are vast.”
Deborah Bohn, part of a group called Against Wind Farm At Langhope Rig (Awfal), said: “This is a spot that’s characterised by utter tranquillity. These turbines will be visible from every hill in the Borders. The eye will be drawn to them. We have been fighting this for two years.
“We have given it our best. There was a huge amount of opposition, but this didn’t apparently carry enough weight. I’m sad, but it was worth a try and hope it may discourage other wind farms in the central Borders.”
Simon Heyes, the general manager for Airtricity in the UK, said the company was delighted with the decision.
The Scottish Government recorder mentioned a local survey had suggested just over half the population supported the wind farm. At full capacity, it will generate enough electricity for about 12,000 homes.
• One of the ScotsmanDebates series will discuss wind farms at Jedburgh Town Hall at 7pm on 14 October. E-mail for tickets – firstname.lastname@example.org – or write to David Lee, ScotsmanDebates, The Scotsman, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS (please say how many tickets and include a phone number).
AT A GLANCE
• A single average-sized turbine produces enough electricity to meet the needs of about 600 households.
• Just over 1 per cent of the world’s energy is produced by wind.
• It accounts for nearly 20 per cent of electricity production in Denmark.
• Germany has the most installed wind power in the world, followed by the United States.
• The UK is the windiest country in Europe, but ranks ninth in the world in terms of installed wind power.
• The Scottish Government has set a target of producing 50 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2020.
• The largest wind farm in Scotland is at Whitelee, near Glasgow, with 140 turbines. ScottishPower Renewables recently applied for permission for an extra 36 turbines.
By Jenny Haworth
20 May 2008
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