A bid to extend a wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills has been branded “a step too far” as it includes turbines as high as “the towers of the new Queensferry Crossing”.
Concerns about the latest expansion of Crystal Rig Wind Farm, which straddles East Lothian and the Scottish Borders, have been lodged with Scottish Ministers as an inquiry into the proposals is launched.
And while local neighbours have branded the plans – which include four turbines with a tip height of 200 metres – too intrusive, local estate owners have accused the applicants of creating a “stalking horse” to try and replace older turbines with new higher versions.
They say that the approval of the giant turbines on the new site could lead to a bid to replace smaller turbines – some of which are less than 100 metres high – on established wind farm sites with new, bigger versions.
Representatives from Mayshiel and Cranshaws Estates said that the inclusion of 200-metre-high turbines in the latest plans, which it warned were “the height of the towers on the new Queensferry Crossing”, should be very carefully considered.
They said: “It is a stalking horse prelude to the proposed re-powering of the early phases of Crystal Rig with turbines of this height.”
One local resident objected that plans to site some of the giant turbines near a country road could pose a health and safety risk if one toppled or collapsed.
A neighbour of the current wind farm development, he said: “I have been a big supporter of renewable energy over the years, including Crystal Rig applications over the years, but this is a step too far.”
Another objector from Innerwick said the proposed turbines would be “out of scale with those existing at Crystal Rig” and a dominant feature on the landscape. The proposals for Crystal Rig IV, by Fred. Olsen Renewables, would see a further 11 wind turbines placed in the Lammermuir Hills.
Scottish Ministers have sent the application to a Scottish Reporter for an inquiry which is expected to reach a conclusion by February.
If approved, the latest phase of the Crystal Rig project would take the number of turbines to more than 100.
Gareth Swales of Fred. Olsen Renewables Ltd said: “Fred. Olsen Renewables Ltd has been delivering clean, green renewable power from the Crystal Rig site since 2003. During this time we have contributed substantially to the Government’s targets for renewable energy and in doing so created employment and contracting opportunities in the local area, invested in local communities and contributed to local environmental initiatives. The proposals for Crystal Rig Phase IV represent our ongoing commitment to these outcomes and a response to the challenges which have been posed by the UK and Scottish Government’s more recent energy policies.”
Chris Bruce, chairman of East Lammermuir Community Council, said: “We take seriously our responsibility in representing the views of all residents into local planning proposals.
“We will be canvassing local views at the level of individual households before coming to any conclusion about our representation to the public inquiry.
We last did this approximately five years ago and it will be important to understand how local public opinion has shifted, if at all, in response to recent developments including Extinction Rebellion and David Attenborough’s climate change related broadcasts.”