Concerns have been raised that the Borders will take the brunt of the Scottish Government’s “ambitious” plans for onshore wind farms.
Elected members met on Thursday to discuss the council’s response to a consultation on the matter sent out from Holyrood.
The government is seeking views on proposals for an additional 8-12 gigawatts of onshore wind to be installed in Scotland by 2030.
On the plans, a Scottish Borders Council (SBC) report states: “The Borders has already made a significant contribution through the approval and development of wind farms and turbines in the past 15-20 years.
“However, it is clear there is an expectation that the region will deliver further capacity through repowering and new wind farm site development to contribute to meeting this new objective.
“The challenge is that many of the best sites have been developed and there are landscape capacity concerns about larger turbine sizes and developing into previously undeveloped and more sensitive and populated parts of the Borders.”
At the SBC meeting, Kelso councillor Simon Mountford raised concerns about whether the region could “absorb developments on this scale proposed without causing significant environmental impact”.
The executive member for enhancing the built environment and natural heritage added: “Many if not most of the best sites have already been developed and that’s not including a number of sites that we as a planning authority opposed, but which were subsequently approved.
“It needs to be the right development in the right place. The development must not prejudice the Borders’ high quality environment and landscape.”
The Conservative councillor also said that communities need to see “tangible, socio-economic benefits” of any development.
The Scottish Government sees onshore wind playing a significant role in the delivery of its net zero and climate change targets for 2030, according to SBC papers.
Scotland currently produces 8.4GW of the UK’s 14.1GW onshore wind capacity, the council report states.
It also has a further 9.7GW “approved, under construction or in planning”.
Fellow Kelso councillor Euan Robson, of the Liberal Democrats, described the scale proposed as “unacceptable”.
He added that there was “further pressure” on the Borders to deliver the planned capacity due to there not being a national park in the region.
On the government consultation, cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson said: “Onshore wind is a cheap and reliable source of electricity generation.
“Our net zero commitment presents the perfect opportunity to revisit and reassess our original Onshore Wind Policy Statement, published in 2017.
“Onshore wind remains vital to Scotland’s future energy mix, and we will need much more as we continue our progress to meet Scotland’s legally binding net zero target.”
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