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Backlash grows over church’s wind farm role

Church of England commissioners are facing a growing backlash over their involvement in plans for a massive wind farm south of Hawick.

In an exclusive story last week, The Southern revealed proposals by energy firm, RES, to erect up to 37 turbines on a site at Highlee Hill, at Dykeraw, near Chesters.

The bulk of land involved, if the Scottish Government greenlights the scheme, belongs to the Church of England.

And if it does get the go-ahead from government ministers it would be the first wind farm in Scotland on Church of England land.

Last week, local campaigners from Chesters urged the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to block the church’s involvement in the scheme.

The site involved at Dykeraw Plantation is home to peregrines, kites, merlins and hen harriers.

At the weekend, Linda Holt, spokesperson for national anti-wind farm alliance Scotland Against Spin, waded into the row, accusing the church of picking on a Borders forest for the simple reason affected communities would not be Anglican parishes.

“The Archbishop should pull the plug forthwith,” she said.

Southdean Community Council vice-chairman, Philip Kerr, told The Southern this week: “What we’re all still waiting for is a direct response from the Church of England addressing local people’s concerns.

“Many people are very disappointed it has not seen fit to respond.”

For its part, RES said it values community involvement, as this plays an important part in shaping its projects.

“RES has started a consultation process for Highlee Hill Wind Farm and we look forward to starting to work with the local community and organisations at this early stage,” said a spokesperson.

“We will undertake full public consultations on our plans before any development application is submitted to the Scottish Government.

“We want to see local communities receive direct and tangible benefits from hosting our wind farms.”

And RES added that Highlee Hill Wind Farm could bring over £13.8million in community benefits.