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Councillors oppose plans for 19 more wind turbines at Aikengall

Proposals for 19 additional wind turbines to be created in the Lammermuir Hills have been opposed by East Lothian Council, despite one councillor labelling the location as “the back of beyond”.

Community Windpower’s plans for Aikengall 2A would see 19 turbines, five within East Lothian, created three kilometres to the south of Oldhamstocks.

Already, Aikengall is home to 16 turbines, with 19 more consented and under construction at nearby Aikengall 2.

A third phase was considered on Tuesday by members of the local authority’s cabinet committee, with the Scottish Government having the final say on the plans.

Ward councillor Michael Veitch led calls for the local authority not to back the plans.

He felt the increased number of turbines could have a detrimental impact on the county.

“It is worth repeating that our countryside is our greatest asset in East Lothian, both in terms of attracting people to live here and to visit and spend their money,” said the councillor.

“And while wind turbines can play a part in helping to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, this must not come at the cost of industrialising vast swathes of our open, green spaces.

“To do so on alleged environmental grounds is perverse in the extreme.”

Mr Veitch, the local authority’s depute leader, backed council planning officers’ recommendation to oppose the scheme and also follow in the footsteps of Scottish Borders councillors, who opposed the plans last week.

He added: “East Lothian Council previously objected to Aikengall 2A under a delegated decision, which I welcome.

“The applicant then put in for an amended scheme which removed three of the turbines in East Lothian, which is commendable.

“Nonetheless, in my view any further extension to Aikengall must now be considered unacceptable and I am therefore delighted that the paper before us today recommends that members object to the application.”

However, his opposition was not matched by ward colleague Norman Hampshire.

He moved for the local authority not to oppose the plans and highlighted the lack of objections from Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government received 52 letters of support for the plans, with just six against the proposals.

He also pointed out there was already a connection to the National Grid in place on the site and highlighted the potential benefits to the county.

Mr Hampshire added: “Community Windpower as a company has local contractors working on the schemes and creating local employment.”

Councillor David Berry described the location as “the back of beyond” and questioned how visible the turbines would be.

The issue went to a vote, taken by members of the administration, with only Councillor Hampshire opting not to oppose the scheme.