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Wind farm extension given the go ahead

More wind turbines will soon be visible on the Upper Tweeddale horizon after the Scottish government ignored local opposition and backed a wind farm extension.

Ministers upheld the appeal by the developers against Scottish Borders Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to add six turbines to the existing 11 structures at Glenkerie, near Broughton and Tweedsmuir.

Two community councils, walkers and hill running groups had objected to the proposals.

Tweeddale MP David Mundell was critical of the decision – and called for a change in the rules to allow local people to be in charge of the planning process. The government’s directorate for planning and environmental appeals pheld the appeal by renewable energy company Infinis and granted planning permission, subject to 34 conditions.

Mr Mundell said: “My feelings on wind farms are well known by local people, I say enough is enough. This extension was given a resounding no by local people yet the Scottish government has overruled the wishes of local people. The Scottish government now needs to follow the UK government lead and put local people in charge of planning decisions for onshore wind. It cannot be right that communities south of the Border can say a decisive no to new developments but local communities in the Borders, and elsewhere across Scotland, remain powerless to stop them.”

Chris Lewin, the chairman of Upper Tweed Community Council, said: “This development will ruin the natural beauty of the Glenholm Valley, near Broughton, which is a significant tourist attraction, particularly in the summer months. Part of the Valley lies within the Upper Tweeddale National Scenic Area and is visited by local people, picnickers, walkers and others, some of whom come from a considerable distance. These people like to enjoy the rugged landscape of a little part of Scotland which is still largely unspoiled but is easily accessible from Peebles and other towns. On behalf of the Upper Tweed Community Council I should like to say how deeply this decision is regretted. We wrote earlier this year to the Scottish government, but our objections have unfortunately been overruled.”

Giving her approval to the plan, the government’s reporter Allison Coard said: “The additional impact of the extension would be limited given the location of existing turbines.

“Given the sensitive layout and the nature of the local topography I do not consider the proposal would be a dominant or characterising feature.”

The reporter admitted that there was a proliferation of turbines in the area – with the large Clyde Wind Farm close by and other smaller concerns in operation or being proposed but added: “I do not consider that this addition would change the existing character of the landscape to an extent that wind famrs would become a defining or dominating characteristic.”

She stated that the overarching policy test was that there should be no unacceptable adverse impacts.

“My assessment identifies localised significant impacts on landscape, sensitive peatland habitat and residential amenity,” she said. “However, given the positive policy context and the potential for mitigation my assessment is that these impacts fall within acceptable limits.”