A massive new wind farm which would be seen up to ten miles away is facing protests amid fears it will spoil views from the Pentlands.
The 22 turbines proposed for Harburnhead Hill in West Lothian would cost up to £70 million to build and create 80 jobs. Developers say up to 40,000 homes could be powered by the 410ft-high turbines and want the facility operational as early as 2015.
However, the city council has already lodged an official objection with the Scottish Government over the impact on views from the Pentland Hills Regional Park.
Councillors have backed officials’ recommendations to protest – with even Green Party members opposing the plan by the Spanish firm Enel Viento.
City planning leader Jim Lowrie said: “It’s a difficult balance. We need renewable energy, but these turbines would be very visually obtrusive. The Pentland Hills have to be protected.”
Developers have insisted the site will be no more visible than current wind farms in the area and the project would bring up to £4m in contributions to community work.
The Harburnhead Hill site, 4km outside West Calder, is one of several major wind farms being planned.
Last month the Evening News revealed plans for a £100m 23-turbine site at Fauch Hill – near the same village –which operators the European Forest Resources Group said would power 42,000 homes.
The southern edge of West Lothian is regarded as a prime wind farm location but locals have opposed what they regard as the erosion of the county’s natural landscape.
Fred Parrish, who lives in the village of Tarbrax, said the area was already over- developed. The retired teacher said: “Developers are coming in here like there’s a gold rush. If this goes ahead we’ll be surrounded by wind farms.”
Terry Quinn, 52, an art teacher from Harburn village, added: “Lots of people support the idea of wind farms but there are too many in too small an area.
“I believe there are now nine separate applications in the area. The village will be surrounded by wind farms.”
The council’s objection will be considered by the Scottish Government under the Electricity Act legislation, instead of West Lothian Council, because of the scale of the development.
The city council is being consulted because the wind farm scheme is a significant departure from the five-year plan agreed to by the four local authorities in the Lothians.
Dr Paul Phillips, consultant project manager at Arcus Renewables, which is working on the project with Enel Viento, said the Harburnhead Hill turbines would be no more intrusive than other sites.
He added: “There will be significant social and economic benefits during construction, including 80 jobs and community benefits payments to local development trusts – £3m-4m over the 30-year lifetime.”
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