A week ago, West Coast Energy mounted two public exhibitions to engage with locals in the West Linton area and explain their proposal for an eight-turbine windfarm on Hag Law above Romanno Bridge.
As a consequence, people can begin to put this proposal into its proper context.
In the scale of Scottish wind farms it is a small, speculative development by a large company, in an area of sensitive landscape currently free of turbines where wind speeds are marginal and efficiency low. Hag Law probably relies on the fate of the larger, neighbouring Cloich application for its determination, which will be made by the Scottish Government: approval of Cloich will set precedent that makes turning down Hag Law by SBC that much harder. In any event, it will act as a bellwether for further applications in this area.
But although it is small, do not be fooled into thinking that Hag Law would have an insignificant influence on the area in the long term. Although not deemed “a material consideration” in the planning process, we should be aware that windfarms have a real effect on property values that is now becoming evident. A recent, authoritative report by the Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE, has clearly established that “wind farm visibility reduces local house prices and the implied visual environmental costs are substantial”. The estimated reduction in value depended on wind farm size and distance, with the largest reduction around 12% with 20 or more turbines within 2Km. The prominence of the Hag Law proposal, combined with the Cloich proposal create this scale of development and it is directly visible from West Linton.
These effects may seem small on their own, and to some represent an acceptable price to pay for a renewable energy resource. But these are direct losses, with no prospect of compensation. House owners in the West Linton and the surrounding area should also consider what effect visible turbines might have on the perceived value of property in this popular commuter area of the Borders – without visible windfarm development to date, it has enjoyed higher house price values and stronger demand than the adjacent Midlothian and Lanarkshire areas, where house values tend to be lower.
West Coast Energy have to make their application for planning approval within the next few weeks. I would urge local people to be vigilant, and to take time to study their proposals very carefully indeed and make sure they have their say, before it’s too late.
I am, etc.