A CAMPAIGN has been formally launched to thwart plans for a wind farm of up to 13 turbines at Cummings Hill four miles south of Jedburgh.
The Chesters Wind Farm Action Group was formed last week after a meeting of around 20 residents from the Southdean/Chesters area of Roxburghshire.
Its members have vowed to fight proposals by a renewable energy company, Infinis Wind Holdings Ltd, for the turbines which would be 100 metres high from base to tip.
Although the firm is not due to submit a bid for full planning consent until next summer, an application to site a meteorological monitoring (met) mast is due to be considered by Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee on September 12.
And opponents want councillors to kick out the testing mast application, not least because the site falls within the new Teviot Valleys special landscape area (SLA) in a draft supplementary planning guidance (SPG) which applies to redrawn map of protected landscapes and went out to a 12-week period of consultation last week.
As revealed in these columns, Teviot Valleys has been identified by consultants as one of eight areas of the Borders which should have NSA status: a nationally recognised standard that precludes “inappropriate development” and replaces areas of great landscape value (AGLV), which have not been revised since the 1960s.
Cummings Hill lies within the proposed NSA, which covers sections of the Teviot, Rule and Jed valleys between Hawick and Jedburgh and includes the visually prominent Dunion Hill.
The new action group claims that, while the draft SPG is out to consultation, SBC’s planning committee should not give consent for the Cummings Hill met mast. The action group’s chairman Philip Kerr said: “The mast is obviously a precursor to the wind farm and it would be outrageous if it was granted consent while the landscape designations are being consulted on. This must be viewed as a material planning consideration.
“The committee thus has the chance to strangle the Cummings Hill wind farm at birth and I hope councillors take the opportunity to do just that by rejecting, or at least delaying, consideration of the met mast.”
Eighteen objections have already been received by Newtown planners to the met mast proposal.
Malcolm Ouldcott of Hundalee Cottage, Jedburgh, writes: “It is yet another infringement of the Borders countryside and this site will be readily visible from the most impressive international border crossing at the Carter Bar.”
Ian Smith, of Braeside Cottage, claims the mast will require “intrusive” red flashing lights because the area is in an RAF low-fly zone.
“We need more tourism if we are to survive the apprehensive world economy, but erecting a monstrosity of this ilk is a transgression of an area of outstanding beauty, indicating to tourists when they cross the border at Carter Bar that we do not care for our precious countryside,” adds Mr Smith.
Asked if the provisional NSA designation of the Teviot Valleys would be a material consideration when the mast bid comes up for determination on September 12, a council spokesperson told us yesterday: “At present the consultation draft of the landscape designation guidance carries some limited weight in the planning process.
“As the guidance goes through consultation and progresses towards adoption, it will gain additional weight in the decision-making process.”
Meanwhile, Infinis has this week formally submitted a request for a scoping opinion from SBC planners on its wind farm proposal.
“Initial investigations indicate the site has the potential to accommodate up to 13 turbines,” said the company’s project manager Julia Aitken.
“However, the number, scale and layout of the turbines and positioning of ancillary elements will be developed through the assessment of technical and environmental constraints, along with aesthetic considerations, to ensure an appropriate landscape and visual fit is achieved, seeking to balance potential environmental effects with renewable energy generation.”