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Tony and the winds of war

Defence chiefs have warned the UK could be unable to fulfil its obligation to monitor worldwide underground nuclear testing – if a Midlem man is given permission to build a single wind turbine.

It follows a decision by Scottish Borders Council’s local review body on Monday to back an appeal by Tony Clay, whose original application for a 15m high turbine to power his home was rejected in February due to concerns expressed by the Ministry of Defence.

The MoD placed a ban on wind farms within 31 miles (50 kilometres) of the UK’s only nuclear test monitoring station at Eskdalemuir, claiming the noise level within this zone had been reached.

The Whitehall department said any breach would affect the station’s ability to record underground nuclear testing, as agreed by the UK Government as part of the United Nations’ Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

But it now seems Mr Clay’s application will be considered by Scottish Ministers and, if approved, could pave the way for further wind farm development within the 31-mile zone.

A Defence Estates spokesman told The Wee Paper: “Inappropriate wind turbine development in the Eskdalemuir area could jeopardise the station’s work and negate the UK Government’s obligations to the treaty. Defence Estates – the MoD’s land and property organisation – is currently considering the implications of the appeal hearing.”

However, Mr Clay, who gave evidence at Monday’s meeting along with MoD representative David Jones, said the MoD’s policy towards wind turbines around Eskdalemuir was “flawed”.

He said: “Their figures don’t add up – if the vibrations of my proposed wind turbine will affect the station why do they not object to all wind farm developments?

“We will see if the Scottish Ministers side with the MoD or common sense – I am not confident common sense will prevail.”

He added: “I am disappointed the debate has not been opened up before this – myself, John Lamont and Michael Moore have questioned the MoD but we just get the same response.”

Councillor Nicholas Watson moved to uphold Mr Clay’s appeal during Monday’s meeting, which resulted in a 3-2 vote in the appellant’s favour.

Mr Watson said: “It was not an easy decision, because although this little windmill fits with SBC policy, an objection from the MOD cannot be taken lightly, and if they had produced sound evidence that it would have interfered with Eskdalemuir then I’m sure we would have turned it down.

“But the MoD view that a single turbine producing just over their noise limit poses a risk while multiple turbines producing just under this limit individually, but collectively far more, should be allowed is difficult to take seriously.