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Tweedsmuir hills wind farm allowed extra time

A bid to extend the operational life of a wind farm in the Tweedsmuir hills has been approved by the Scottish government.

It will allow the 14-turbine Whitelaw Brae development in the Borders to run for 30 years instead of the previously consented 25.

Mountaineering Scotland (MS) criticised the original approval in 2017 as ignoring the impact on tourism in the area.

The Scottish government said allowing the extension would help meet its renewable energy targets and raised no significant environmental impact concerns.

The planning history of the project is a lengthy one.

A scoping request for up to 22 turbines on the site was submitted to the Scottish government in 2013.

The project was reduced in scale but Scottish Borders Council opposed it amid concerns over its visual impact and effect on nearby archaeological sites.

MS also opposed it due to the impact on hill walkers and other “lovers of Scotland’s natural beauty”.

A public inquiry was held and it was ultimately approved.

MS criticised that decision saying it could damage tourism employment in the area.

However, the Scottish government said it had given “careful consideration” to all its potential effects before giving its approval.

It has now agreed to give the project five more years of operation.