Scottish Borders Council’s attempts to curb the surge of new wind farms in the region have been greeted with a predictably hostile response from renewable energy companies.
No fewer than nine of these firms have submitted objections to proposals from SBC planners which seek to protect the landscape from the “inappropriate” siting of turbines.
The bid to check the speed of developments “due to the potential for adverse and cumulative impacts on landscape” is contained in the council’s local development plan (LDP) which has recently been out to public consultation.
The LDP, which will govern all local planning decisions for a decade, urges a cautious approach to wind farm expansion given that there are already 306 turbines in the region with a further 10 under construction and another 41 which have already received planning consent.
Last month, the council agreed to write to the Scottish Government, which will ultimately have to ratify the LDP, asking it to respect decisions made by SBC’s planning committee and not overrule them when energy companies lodge appeals.
But underpinning the national planning policy is a target to generate 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
And that aspiration is cited by many of the disgruntled wind farm companies whose submissions, expressing displeasure at the council’s attitude, are due to be considered later this month when the LDP and its consultation responses are discussed by councillors.
RES UK & Ireland Ltd, one of the world’s leading wind farm developers, has called for chunks of the proposed LDP to be withdrawn and for other parts to be reworded.
“We strongly object to the council’s approach to onshore wind energy development…there is no national planning guidance support for any such precautionary approach,” states the firm’s submission.
EDF Energy Renewables believes the council is being overly negative and is not embracing the Scottish Government’s strong support for the development of renewables.
“The test of acceptability [in the Borders] has been set unattainably high,” states EDF.
A similar sentiment is expressed by Fred Olsen Renewables which expresses concern over SBC’s “negative stance” towards future onshore wind farms.
Meanwhile a submission from Corilis Energey avers: “The reliance on landscape capacity inevitably rules out the suitability of huge swathes of the Scottish Borders for wind farm development.”
In a 35-page submission, Infinis, which currently has three active wind farm applications in the Borders, says the LDP is lacking in its commitment to progress renewable energy development.
Oxford-based TCI Renewables claims the report on landscape capacity on which the LDP policy is derived has not itself been subjected to public consultation. The company believes this a serious flaw which means to policy is open to challenge.
And Wales-based West Coast Energy states: “The landscape capacity study does not match the ambition and aspiration of the Scottish Government to be a truly low carbon country…the strategy sends a confusing message to developers and the public.”
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