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Wind-farms generate debate in Lauder

The owner of one of Scotland’s oldest castles has warned wind-farms are destroying the Borders historic landscape.

Gerald Maitland-Carew, who runs Thirlestane Castle in Lauder, claimed more turbines were being built in the region than any other area of the country.

He believes they scarred the landscape and put tourists off visiting the Borders.

And, with plans for around 100 new turbines in the area, the Lord Lieutenant of Roxburgh, Ettrick and Lauderdale claimed “enough is enough”.

However, if approved, Lauderdale Community Council revealed the wind-farms could generate as much as £2.5million for the local community over the next 25 years and be used to protect local services currently under-threat from closure following public spending cuts, such as the library and leisure centre, as well as set up a new youth group in the area.

Speaking to the Border Telegraph at a public exhibition on the future of wind farms held in Lauder Public Hall on Wednesday, Captain Maitland-Carew, the Queen’s representative for the region, said: “We have got the most amazing landscape here that people from all over the world come to visit and I can’t help but think it is being destroyed.

“In Lauder, we appear to be getting more wind-farms than anywhere else in Scotland – we are surrounded by them and I am terribly against it.

“I can understand why so many landowners and developers are keen to construct them because of the huge amount of public subsidies involved and the money that can be generated.”

But he added: “These wind-farms are going to use more energy than they produce and people that live near them will suffer because, as well as destroying the landscape, they will affect the price of their property and impact on their health.”

Plans for five new wind-farms in and around Lauder – Girthgate, Crosbie Moor, Brunta Hill, Rowantree and Shaw Park – were put on display ahead of a wind-farm hustings to be held in the Royal Burgh before the Scottish Parliament elections in May.

And, between them, they propose building 75 new turbines in the area, in addition to the wind farm already in existence on Soutra Hill and the 48 turbines being constructed at nearby Fallago Rig.

“Scottish Borders Council has in the past said that we don’t want some of these wind farms that we are now surrounded with and the developers have appealed to the Scottish Government,” Captain Maitland-Carew said.

“They say there is huge benefit to climate change but it’s actually the opposite.

“No-one wants to come to the Borders to walk past these gigantic turbines – some of which are the height of the Eildon Hills – and I’m afraid it is doing nothing for tourism in the area.”

Alistair Smith, chairman of Lauderdale Community Council, which organised the information day, said it was important that local residents had their say on all future wind-farm developments in the area.

“We have got a display on wind-farms which shows the good points and the bad points and we are asking the public for their views,” he said.

“It’s important that the community has its say because we need to know what they want.” But he added: “The worry is only the objectors turn up to meetings and we don’t hear from the people who want to support them.”

A windfarm hustings planned to be held in Lauder on March 16, involving all political parties, has been postponed with a new date expected to be announced before the end of April.