The spread of wind farms across Scotland’s countryside is likely to accelerate in 2013, according to estimates showing more than 500 turbines will be built or have planning permission in the Borders alone by the end of the year.
Campaigners have complied official figures showing 332 turbines have already been erected in the picturesque area, with at least another 170 expected to be constructed or given planning consent within the next 12 months.
The total does not include applications that are being developed but are not far enough advanced for planning permission to be granted in 2013, or those where the precise number of turbines being considered is not known.
The figures emerged after the Daily Telegraph disclosed that SNP ministers were pressurising the 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.
Alex Salmond requires the rapid construction of onshore turbines to meet his target of generating the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade.
This newspaper has previously revealed how more than 1,000 turbines are on course to be eventually built in the Borders, but it was not known the halfway point could be reached as quickly as this year.
John Lamont, Scottish Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, described the 500 total as “a milestone figure which will no doubt be celebrated in SNP quarters, but lamented across the Borders.”
“The Scottish Government’s overreliance on this source is damaging countryside in the Borders and beyond,” he said.
“And even when council officials, councillors and local people are all saying no, the SNP still presses ahead with huge applications in order to meet its own over-ambitious targets.”
Mark Rowley, chairman of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus community council, used official sources to compile the total number turbines built and in the pipeline that are more than 98ft tall.
He said: “It isn’t good news for a wonderful landscape unfortunately and Berwickshire has certainly done its bit.”
According to the figures, 232 of the 332 turbines already built in the Borders are in Berwickshire. Planning permission for a further 78 in the area has already been granted, bringing the overall total given consent to 410.
Applications for 237 more turbines have been lodged with the council, while plans for 111 more are the subject of an appeal or public inquiry. Ministers have been asked to rule on a further 115 under Section 36 of the Electricity Act.
Mr Rowley argued that at least 90 of the 463 turbines proposed in these three categories will be given planning permission this year, taking the total given consent to 500.
In addition, wind farm companies are ‘scoping’ sites for an additional 200 turbines in the area, including major developments in the Lammermuir Hills.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding