The region’s more remote and rugged areas need protection from further wind farm developments and blanket afforestation.
That was the clear message sent out from the chamber of Scottish Borders Council on Thursday.
There were currently over 600 wind turbines, either operating or with planning consent, in the Borders, while tens of thousands of acres are swathed in Sitca Spruce.
A new map, being prepared by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), seeks to identify “core areas of wild land” which, when adopted at Holyrood next year, will put them beyond the reach of renewable energy companies.
However, a draft map considered by the council last week, highlights just two areas in the Borders out of 43 sites across Scotland.
And both of these – the hills of Dollar Law, Broad Law and Black Law along with Talla’s spectacular Hare Fells – are at Tweedsmuir.
Asked to submit their views by December 20, councillors unanimously agreed to tell SNH that a “more comprehensive approach” to rugged land protection, as part of the national planning process, was required.
“There should be identification of smaller, more local areas of wildness,” stated an agreed council submission.
“This is critical to protect areas which have high societal value due to their balance between wildness and accessibility.
“The council would like to see local areas of relative wildness given more policy protection.
“It is critical to protect these areas from all types of inappropriate development.”
The council decided not to name specific local areas which should be protected in its official response to SNH, but the Lammermuirs, Moorfoots, Cheviots and Liddesdale were all cited during the debate as warranting special status.
Councillor Gavin Logan (Tweeddale East) told the meeting: “The area between the Tweed and Yarrow valleys is a perfect example of relative wildness where people can escape from the centres of population and which provides significant economic benefits by attracting visitors.
“When you stand at the top of Minchmoor for example it is like being lost in time, yet this site, along with Broadmeadows, has already been targeted by wind farm operators.
“Fortunately, both these planning applications were turned down, but it is essential that more formal protection is put in place.”
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