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wind farm bid is blown away

Revised plans for a wind farm near historic Hermitage Castle in remote Liddesdale have been rejected.

The planning committee of Scottish Borders Council voted 6-2 on Monday to refuse a bid by Infinis for nine turbines on exposed upland known as Windy Edge, 10km from Newcastleton.

It is two years since the renewables firm sought consent for 17 turbines on the site, eliciting 262 letters of objection and 16 submissions of support.

In November last year, SBC planners allowed the scale of the application to be radically reduced – from 17 to nine turbines, each 125m tall from base to wing tip – producing a further 73 objections and just eight endorsements.

However, the tide of local public opinion appeared to be turning when, in April this year, Infinis again amended its proposal, reducing the height of three of the nine turbines to 110m.

Since then, the council had received a further 23 objections and 89 letters of support for an installation which would annually generate over 22MW of electricity. On Monday, the committee also heard that the Ministry of Defence, which had been concerned about the impact of the development on its radar station at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria, had withdrawn its objection.

But SBC planning officer John Hiscox recommended refusal, claiming the wind farm, although medium in size, would have “overridingly adverse impacts … on a sensitive and distinct landscape with grandeur, historical, remoteness and wilderness qualities”.

Noting that, apart from four turbines at Craik 20km away, there was no other wind farm within 35km of Windy Edge, Mr Hiscox added: “The development would appear as an incongruous and anachronistic feature.”

After Monday’s meeting, Julie Aitken of Infinis told The Southern: “We are naturally disappointed, especially as we redesigned the scheme after listening to local concerns and came up with a proposal which we feel sits well with the existing landscape.

“If consented, the wind farm would have brought in around £2.8million to the area over the [25-year] lifetime of the scheme in community benefit as well as local business opportunities during the construction and operational phases.”

Asked if her firm would lodge an appeal against this week’s decision with the Scottish Government, she said: “We still believe Windy Edge is an excellent proposal and will consider our options over the coming weeks.”