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Anti-turbine body set up

More than a dozen landscape conservation groups have united in an effort to stem the march of wind turbines across the Borders countryside.

The newly-constituted Borders Network of Conservation Groups has been formed to step up the campaign to safeguard the enormous value which the landscape brings to the region’s local economy, culture, recreation and ecology.

Network chair, John Williams, says the biggest threat to the Borders is coming from the rush to erect as many wind farms as possible before subsidies are reduced in 2017, and as restrictions due to the Ministry of Defence’s seismic monitoring at Eskdalemuir are relaxed.

The network’s 15 member groups are actively campaigning against proposals for 15 major Borders wind farm projects, which are currently in the pipeline.

Mr Williams told us: “Developers appear to have no concern for the devastating effect that increasing numbers of ever-larger wind turbines have on our landscape and communities and the network will be concentrating its efforts on protecting the Borders in the face of this onslaught.”

The network is now adopting a strategic approach for concerted action, as one of its vice-chairs, Mark Rowley, explained: “If the brakes are not applied now, the Borders will very soon become ‘the Land of a Thousand Turbines’.

“Our member groups all believe the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council should do all in their power to halt this ‘wind rush’ temporarily so as to take stock.”

Mr Rowley said there were three good reasons for such a moratorium: firstly, recent Scottish Government figures show renewable energy targets will already be comfortably met by operating and consented wind farms and those currently in the planning system; secondly, many turbines which have received approval have yet to be built so nobody will be able to judge the impact of these until it is too late to save the landscape and, thirdly, wind turbines in the Borders already produce more than nine times as much electricity as local households need.

The other vice-chair of the network is Professor Jack Ponton, who added: “We will be meeting with the leader of Scottish Borders Council, and its chief executive, on June 17 to discuss matters of mutual interest when we hope to be able to suggest constructive ways in which the council can fulfil its obligations to protect and promote the Borders’ heritage, people, and economy.

“In the near future, other political leaders and government officials can expect to hear more from us. We’re not going away”.