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National windfarm strategy

The controversial approval of two windfarm developments in Berwickshire was brought up during a Government debate on windfarms last week.

South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume, demanded that ministers create a national strategy to oversee the development of wind turbines and John Lamont MSP called for a halt on further largescale windfarm developments until they do.

Mr Hume, who has made numerous calls for such legislation to be put into place, raised the subject of the windfarms at Fallago Rig and Drone Hill during the discussions last Thursday, December 2. Both windfarms had been rejected by Scottish Borders Council but were ultimately given the green light by the Government.

Highlighting these cases, Mr Hume said: “There are ambitious targets to be met and wind farms should, rightly, play their part in meeting those aims alongside other forms of energy generation. That is not in question.

“However, it’s time that the Government gave serious consideration to the cumulative effect upon communities of nearby wind farm developments to avoid the developer led situation that currently exists.

“Here in the Borders two extremely contentious wind farm developments at Fallago Rig and Drone Hill were rejected by the public and the local planning authority, only for the Government to run roughshod over local democracy and approve both developments.

“This has not been forgotten in Berwickshire. On several occasions I have called on the Scottish Government to formulate a national strategy to oversee developments of this kind to help restore public confidence in the planning system. I will repeat that request again this evening.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Mr Hume wasn’t the only local politician to call on the Government to protect local communities. There was cross-party support for the motion, with Berwickshire & Roxburgh Conservative MSP John Lamont, too making his feelings heard during last week’s debate which attracted around 150 members of the public, including a large contingent from the Borders,

Following the debate, Mr Lamont told ‘The Berwickshire News’ that whilst he felt wind power was beneficial,he often felt that the worries of residents living close to earmarked windfarm sites weren’t properly addressed,

“Whilst attaining clean, renewable energy sources should always remain a priority for Scotland, current strategies of the SNP Government excessively burden communities, outweighing any possible benefits.

“By increasing the role wind power plays in meeting our electricity needs the Scottish Government have effectively restricted the expansion of other forms of renewable energy. Wind power is not and should not be the only solution.

“What annoys me and many of my constituents is the failure of the planning system to deal with the legitimate concerns of local residents about large scale wind farms in their area. In many cases, a wind farm application may be opposed by local residents, community councils, councillors, and planning officials. Yet the developer may then appeal to a Scottish Government appointed Reporter which, in many cases will impose the will of the Scottish Government and approve the application. No wonder so many Scots feel that the planning system is stacked against them.

“Wind power certainly has a place within Scotland but that place needs to be evaluated alongside other forms of renewable energy and, critically, the views of local communities who have to accommodate these industrial wind farms.

“The SNP Government needs to set out a clear and coherent strategy on windfarm developments within the planning framework. Until it does so, I believe that the Government should stop any new applications for large windfarms.”