Lammermuir turbine judicial review refused

CAMPAIGNERS have all but given up hope of preventing a huge wind farm being built at Fallago Rig in the Lammermuir Hills after a Court of Session verdict went against them.

Judge Lord McEwan decided there was no need for a judicial review, despite claims that Scottish Government civil servants had “covert conversations” to get the Ministry of Defence to drop their previous opposition.

There have been two inquiries about the project. Protesters claimed in court that the developer, North British Windpower (NBW), had “seduced” First Minister Alex Salmond and finance secretary John Swinney.

Lord McEwan was also told by lawyers acting for Scottish minister, who approved the proposal last year, and NBW that the wind farm opponents had not challenged the second inquiry and had taken an active part in it.

Lord McEwan said he was unable to find any conduct by the responsible minister – then energy minister Jim Mather – which could be criticised.

He threw out the call for a judicial review, saying those opposed to the wind farm should have called for a review during the second inquiry.

Already 10 miles of access tracks have been built from Westruther, and the path now seems clear for NBW to construct the wind farm which Mr Mather claimed would create hundreds of jobs.

Mark Rowley, chairman of Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus community council, said: “We, as well as the many people who live in, or just love to visit, the Lammermuirs will all be extremely saddened that this highly inappropriate development will now sit in the heart of the Lammermuir area of great landscape value.

“It is a windfarm too far for the Lammemuirs and was rightly opposed by the local community, Scottish Natural Heritage and both Scottish Borders and East Lothian councils.”

The application for the wind farm, which will comprise of 48 turbines each 125 metres high, was turned down in 2007 by Scottish Borders Council. NBW took its planning bid to a public inquiry in February 2008 but it was rejected.

A key objection from the Ministry of Defence centred on the turbines interfering with radar defences which could leave Torness nuclear power station open to a surprise attack.

When the second inquiry was opened, the MoD dropped its opposition after discussions with government officials, allowing Mr Mather to approve the wind farm in November last year.