Plans to develop a wind farm in the Borders have been given the green light by a report from the Scottish Government after the proposals were originally rejected by Scottish Borders Council.
An application for the Landhope Rig wind farm near Ashkirk was first submitted by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) in 2006, but was turned down by the Development and Building Control Committee of the council.
However, developers appealed the decision and the Scottish Government has now produced a written intention that planning permission will be granted subject to the conclusion of a legal agreement with Scottish Borders Council.
The news has received mixed reactions from Borderers. Some locals have expressed concern over the impact of the wind farm on the local environment, with over 350 letters of protest being lodged and the campaigning of groups such as Against Wind farm at Langhope Rig (Awfal).
However, local SNP councillors have said they ‘applaud’ any move toward sustainable and renewable energy in the area.
Jock Houston, Chairman of the Development and Building Control Committee, said the decision to uphold the appeal was a defeat for the council.
However, speaking personally, he believes SSE had a strong case in their application for the development: “I was disappointed with the initial refusal of the application. It complies with all the council’s policies and, as we have to make decisions based on policies, I think this is the right decision.”
Mr Houston also said: “I was very impressed that the Reporter actually got on his bike and cycled the whole length of the Langhope Rig valley. They (the Scottish Government) really looked into whether the wind farm was suitable for the area, and I think they ultimately made a very informed decision.”
Councillor and member of the Borders Party, Nicholas Watson, however, said he found it: “very disappointing that the decision by the council to refuse the application – a decision made by local, elected members -should have been overturned.”
“We (the Borders Party) have emphasised the special importance of the Borders’ landscape, not just for tourists and residents, but for investors too. In this case it was clear to me that the environmental benefits of the wind farm did not outweigh the environmental damage to the landscape.”
The development will include 10 turbines and produce enough electricity to supply around 12,000 homes.
By Alexa Brown
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