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Girthgate plans ditched as wind farm subsidies are axed  

Credit:  Border Telegraph | 24 Jul 2015 | www.bordertelegraph.com ~~

An energy company has pulled out of plans to erect 24 turbines on land near the Southern Upland Way – just weeks after it was announced that subsidies would be axed from next year.

Motherwell-based Community Windpower wanted to develop a site at Girtghate, between Lauder and Stow.

Scottish Borders Council had opposed the application along with many local community groups and statutory consultees.

And the bid has been referred to the Scottish Government’s directorate of planning appeals with a hearing pencilled in for September.

But last week representatives of Community Windpower Ltd notified appeals officers of their decision to withdraw.

Amongst the local campaigners opposed to the planned turbines was Stow businessman Graeme Steel, who believes the withdrawal of subsidies is behind the move.

Mr Steel told us: “It is only the withdrawal of subsidies which we all pay for that has stopped this from proceeding.

“I am delighted that this company calling itself Community Windpower has withdrawn its totally inappropriate development at Girthgate.

“This would have impacted greatly on Stow as well as as Lauder and its Common Riding.

“This proposal had received over 100 objections from local residents. The local community were overwhelmingly against it.”

The UK Government announced last month that it would exclude any new onshore wind farms from claiming a key subsidy from April next year – 12 months earlier than expected.

Prime minister David Cameron stated that the move, which is expected to stop the construction of many developments not yet given planning permission, was a welcome respite for communities ‘besieged by subsidy chasers’ taking advantage of the SNP’s ‘open door’ policy.

Although energy policy is a Westminster matter, the SNP government in Edinburgh has used its control over the Scottish planning system to encourage the construction of thousands of turbines across the countryside.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond set a target of generating the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The funding for the subsidy comes from the Renewable Obligation, which is funded by levies added to household bills.

Community Windpower were due to give evidence during a five day hearing at The Lodge at Carfraemill from September 7.

The hearing was due to consider landscape and visual impact, archaeology and cultural heritage, national energy and planning policies, and the conditions and legal agreements.

But all of the groups opposed to the plans were informed of the withdrawal last week by the directorate of planning appeals.

A spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said: “The council is pleased that the appeal has been withdrawn by Community Windpower Ltd.

“The scheme, for up to 24 turbines, would have had significant visual and amenity impacts on the area and would have seriously prejudiced the integrity and landscape character of Lauder Common.

“The applicant’s decision is to be applauded, as it has saved the council and local communities additional costs and uncertainty.”

We did ask Community Windpower for a statement regarding the withdrawal of their appeal but they hadn’t responded by the time we went to press.

All details of the planned development at Girthgate have also been removed from their website.

Source:  Border Telegraph | 24 Jul 2015 | www.bordertelegraph.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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