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The 25 year life-span of turbines is in doubt

Wind farms look set to be as controversial a topic in Berwickshire in 2013 as they have been in recent years.

At their first meeting of the year, Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee were faced on Monday with two applications for wind monitoring masts and one application to increase the height of a wind turbine, all in east Berwickshire.

Councillors were also made aware of appeals in respect of three wind farms for which SBC refused to grant planning permission – at Corsbie Moor near Westruther, and Blackburn and Penmanshiel both at Grantshouse.

Although there were objections from local people regarding the 80m high wind monitoring masts at Bowshiel Farm, Grantshouse and Fallaknowe, Coldingham, planning officials explained that councillors could not take into account the possibility of the masts being followed by applications for wind farms on the same sites, and both masts were granted planning approval.

Planning permission has already been given, on appeal, for a 70m wind turbine on land north of Blackhouse Cottage, Eyemouth, and this week applicants, Locogen, were given approval to increase the height of the turbine to 74m.

With most wind farm applications being for a 25 year period, recent research suggesting that the economic life-span of onshore wind turbines is between 10 and 15 years, is a matter for concern according to Berwickshire MP John Lamont, given the number of wind farms there are already and also planned for the county.

A report by a leading professor at the University of Edinburgh on behalf of the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) which looked at wind farm performance in the UK and Denmark suggests that after ten years turbines can lose a third of their generating capacity due to wear and tear, making them no longer economically viable.

John Lamont said: “This report makes worrying predictions about the future of wind farms in the UK. That their life span could be as short as just ten years before they are no longer economically viable is concerning, and could mean that we are left with hundreds of useless turbines in the Borders.

“Many local residents will not only be concerned at the number of wind farms cropping up in the Borders, but also that in a few years they could be rendered obsolete. We only need to look across to the large wind farms in California where there are thousands of rotting turbines that are no longer any use, to see the dangers.”