A thousand wind turbines are on course to be built in the Scottish Borders thanks to the SNP’s “backroom bullying” of the local council to ignore public opposition, it has been claimed.
Campaigners said official figures showed wind farm developers have already built or have planning permission for 403 turbines in the picturesque tourist area.
An additional 418 are in the planning system, either as live applications or appeals, while wind farm companies have started scoping and screening for around a further 200 turbines.
The figures emerged the day after the Daily Telegraph disclosed how SNP ministers are pressurising Scottish Borders Council to allow more wind farms even where they risk reaching “saturation point”.
Scottish Government planning officials have asked the local authority to change a new blueprint for the area’s future development after complaining of the “negative language” about wind farms.
The council also acceded to another SNP demand to drop proposals for turbine “buffer zones” around castles, abbeys, stately homes and gardens.
Mark Rowley, chairman of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus Community Council, compiled the total number turbines built and in the pipeline after becoming concerned about the effect on tourism, agriculture and country sports.
He said: “I’m sure the many Borders residents who have made their concerns about oppressive wind farm development known will be shocked to discover that whilst they were openly engaging in the planning process, the Scottish Government was busy behind the scenes bullying the council into consenting more turbines.
“Our residents are clear – they have supported schemes in the past but think enough is enough.” Although the local authority’s website contains details of wind farm numbers up to March this year, he has compiled figures that include plans lodged up to this month.
Scottish Borders Council is in the process of drawing up a new local development plan (LDP), which will decide which areas are appropriate for new housing, businesses and wind turbines.
One of the first stages was producing a document called a major issues report (MIR), which highlights the most prominent development pressures facing the region.
Correspondence published under the Freedom of Information Act showed the Scottish Government has written to the council attacking the MIR’s “negative language” about wind farms and urging it to recognise the “positive benefits”.
Anne Grove, a senior planner, wrote: “It is regrettable that the only alternative option suggested is a negative one stating that the Borders landscape is at saturation point for wind turbines.”
The council has protested their policies are compliant with national guidelines, but has agreed to consider ministers’ views and commission further research before drawing up a final version of the LDP next year.
John Lamont, Tory MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, said: “This correspondence from the Scottish Government just goes to show how ruthless they are being in pursuing their wind farm agenda.
“The SNP are insistent that more and more sites should be given planning permission to help them reach their ludicrous energy targets regardless of the views of local residents.”
Ray Porter, an anti-turbine campaigner who lives near the village of Coldingham, said the Borders was in danger of becoming a “turbine landscape”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said it was a legal requirement for councils to consult them on emerging development plans and they provide comments when this occurs.
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