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Wind farm bid gets short shrift

Hawick Community Council delivered a resounding snub to the Birneyknow wind farm development on Monday night in the lesser town hall.

Councillors voted 9-3 not to give the planned 15-turbine development the thumbs up, but the final say is in the hands of the Scottish Government.

And following an angry exchange with one member of the public, a Banks Renewables representative conceded that people don’t “trust” his company.

In line with similar groups, Hawick Community Council was asked to submit its views on the proposed wind farm to the Energy Consents Unit, and following a sometimes heated hour-long discussion, Banks were on hand to hear the verdict.

Council chair Marion Short asked for a show of hands in support of the controversial development and this resulted in only one raised arm from community councilor Andy Maybury. The other eight councillors voted alongside Mrs Short to oppose the planned wind farm and this desision, as well as the councillors’ views, will be forwarded to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit.

The vote was well recieved by members of the public who kept the Banks representatives on their toes throughout the meeting with a constant barrage of criticism.

And during one exchange over a lack of graphics on the Banks website, planner, Stuart Provan stunned the audience by admitting: “People do not trust what they see on our website.”

Campaigner Malcolm Dickson said that Banks’ sponsorship of Hawick Rugby was “disgraceful” and had placed the club in an “invidious” position, but he was quickly rounded on by Mr Provan, who said he “would not apologise for this” and reiterated the company’s support for the Greens.

Banks were asked about the largest issue they have to deal with and they responded by saying that the impact on visual amenity was high on the public complaint list.

And Evelyn Sangster spoke for most when she said: “There are so many contentious issues surrounding these wind farms and yet you sit there with your blase attitudes while blighting our beautiful Border landscape with these wind farms. This is one of our main assets, it’s our history and heritage and a major asset as far as tourism is concerned.”

Banks said they accepted the outcome of the meeting but would be happy to hold further meetings.