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Bid to extend wind farm

Proposals to extend the second-largest wind farm in the UK by 11 turbines go on display at two public exhibitions.

Crystal Rig wind farm, about seven miles south of Dunbar in the Lammermuirs Hills, currently operates with 85 wind turbines (25 turbines of phase I and Ia, and 60 of phase II and IIa) giving it a capacity of 200.5 megawatts.

The proposed phase III extension for 11 new turbines would be located on the northern side of Crystal Rig II, 1.5 miles to the south of Lothian Edge and 3km north of the summit of Birk Cleugh Hill.

It is unclear at this stage what visual impact the new turbines would have on East Lothian communities and the East Lothian skyline.

However, one critic of the proposals says a third extension would be a “slap in the face” to those who value the picturesque landscape on the East Lothian/Scottish Borders border.

When the 25-turbine first stage of Crystal Rig was completed in May 2004 it was the largest wind farm in Scotland.

The wind farm’s owner Fred.Olsen Renewables, which won the 2004 Best Renewable Project prize at the Green Energy Awards for Crystal Rig, is staging two public consultations this week.

The first event takes place in Cockburnspath Village Hall on Wednesday (February 15) between 4-8pm. The second is held in Garvald Village Hall between 4-8pm on Thursday (February 16).

Innerwick resident Michael Veitch, Scottish Conservative local government candidate for Dunbar & East Linton, said: “The eastern Lammermuirs are already awash with turbines, and I am therefore dismayed to see proposals for even more.

“This is a slap in the face for people who value the beauty of these special hills, and is too high a price to pay to satisfy the SNP’s rampant zeal for wind power.”

Jim Thomson, vice-chair of Garvald and Morham Community Council, stated that the group was not opposed “in principle” to the Crystal Rig III extension, but would not comment further until more details were revealed.

Crystal Rig – much of which sits within a large landscape hidden from the surrounding countryside – is one of two wind farms located in the Lammermuirs undergoing proposals for extension.

Community Windpower Ltd had originally planned to extend its Aikengall Wind Farm, located to the east of the Crystal Rig I site, by 30 turbines.

However, when Scottish Borders Council objected to the eight turbines proposed for within its area, the energy firm reduced the figure to 22 turbines within East Lothian. The proposed extension, entitled Wester Dod/Aikengall II, will be located west of Oldhamstocks.

These 22 turbines are expected to generate 79.2MW of electricity for more than 44,000 homes and displace around 90,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. Scottish ministers have yet to decide on the application, though a public inquiry was carried out last year in response to local objections.

Last November, it was reported that Fred.Olsen Renewables was paid £1.2 million not to produce electricity at Crystal Rigg II wind farm for eight-and-a-half hours.

The amount was said to be 10 times greater than the wind farm’s owners would have received had they generated any electricity.

The National Grid asked the company to shut down its Crystal Rig II wind farm amid fears the electricity network would become overloaded. The problem was caused by high winds buffeting the country in the wake of Hurricane Katia.