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Minch Moor windfarm plans rejected

It has taken eight years – but the Minch Moor wind farm application has finally been rejected.

Swedish company Vattenfall finally learned this week that their application to erect 12 turbines on the famous beauty spot had been rejected by the Government reporter assigned to deal with the case.

Robert Maslin was employed by the Scottish Government to look at the proposal after Vattenfall appealed Scottish Borders Council’s original decision to turn down their application.

Mr Maslin’s decision draws to a close the longest planning dispute the region has ever seen.

In a letter outlining his conclusion, he said: “I dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission.

“I conclude that the landscape and visual effects make the proposed wind farm unacceptable. The undesirable nature of these effects clearly outweighs general support for onshore wind energy development contained in national policy.

“I have considered all the other matters put forward by the Appellant in support of the proposed development, but I find no other material considerations that would justify approval of the development in the face of the unacceptable landscape and visual effects.”

The news has been welcomed by local action groups, who last week voiced concerns that the fate of the project would be decided upon a single site visit by Mr Maslin and no public inquiry would take place.

Local residents and action groups have campaigned for years against the development, which would have required 305 hectares of forest to be cleared and been visible from as far afield as the Yarrow Valley and Walkerburn.

Some of the turbines would also have been built alongside the Southern Upland Way, the country’s only coast to coast footpath.

Tweeddale East Councillor Gavin Logan said: “As the local member on the Planning Committee I was delighted when my motion to refuse the planning application for Minch Moor received unanimous support from the committee.

“Credit should go to the Scottish Borders Council officers for the way the report was presented and how the committee’s decision was defended. However, it must be recognised that the local action groups, community councils and some of the local politicians fought this application vigorously for eight years and deserve most of the credit.”

SNP parliamentary candidate Christine Grahame added: “I am delighted at this decision which is something I have campaigned alongside local objectors and residents since 2008. It has been a long fight but the Reporter has reflected on the objections made by local residents and the concerns I expressed and the decision is the right one in this case.”

Colin Ormston, Vattenfall’s Head of Onshore Development UK, told the Border Telegraph: “Vattenfall is disappointed by the Reporter’s decision to refuse planning permission for a wind farm at Minch Moor.

“We will examine the reasons for refusal carefully.”