December 22, 2012

Wind farm developers set sights on Merse valley

By Janice Gillie | The Berwick Advertiser | 20 December 2012 |

Wind farm developers show no signs of losing interest in Berwickshire, and with the Lammermuirs well covered already they are beginning to look at lower lying sites in the Merse valley.

The potential impact of turbines up to 140 metres high on the valley landscape brought around 60 people together in Foulden Village Hall this week, and it was recognised by the majority of those present that joint action was going to be needed if the march of the turbines was to be slowed.

A meeting between Berwickshire community councils and Scottish Borders Council planning officers has been arranged for next month to discuss how they should respond to applications, there will be a Berwickshire Area Forum meeting on the subject, probably in February and Berwickshire Civic Society are writing to every community council in the old county of Berwickshire to flag up the need for joined-up thinking.

With 130 turbines of over 30m either consented or proposed in east Berwickshire, wind farm applications are starting to creep downhill and along a corridor in eastern Berwickshire parallel with the A1, down to Lamberton Moor. The visual, landscape, cumulative and noise impacts are likely to be far greater as the land is flatter and there are more settlements in the Merse valley.

Mark Rowley, who led the campaign against Fallago Rig and describes himself as ‘Scotland’s least successful wind farm protestor, highlighted that there are 403 turbines in the Borders, either built or have been consented, and 273 of those are in Berwickshire.

Mr Rowley, who is chairman of Ellemford, Cranshaws and Longformacus Community Council, explained their initial approach to the first wind farm applications: “In 2003 we had an application and we thought it was a really good thing and just about everyone supported the first couple of schemes. It was going to help farmers, it was us doing our bit for the environment.

“Then Crystal Rig came along and again we didn’t object to the 25 turbines. But then we had phase 1a, 2a, 2b and in spring it will be phase 3. We are up to 102 with another 18 planned. The Southern Upland Way is becoming the Southern Windfarm Way.

“The money is so overwhelmingly huge (payback is as little as three and half years), that virtually nothing will stop them other than people’s actions.

“We all recognise the Borders’s single biggest asset is its landscape. The scale of development at the moment is critical and what has happened in the Lammermuirs will happen here.

“Wind farm developers across the globe are practising their dark arts here in Berwickshire.”

East Berwickshire councillor, Michael Cook, said: “We have seen migration in terms of applications. They have moved from upland areas to lowland areas and this is something we need to respond to.”

He urged people to contact their national politicians saying: “ It’s important that if you have a view on this you make them aware of that view.”

Denise Walton, of Peelham Farm, told those at the meeting that they had already had four offers from wind farm companies and had turned them down.

“I support green energy but I can’t condone the desecration of our countryside,” she said.

“We have set up the Lamberton and Mordington Action Group. It’s a battle for balance – it’s not about being anti-wind it’s about protecting our countryside.”

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