Controversial wind farm plans rejected

At the site, from left, Eileen Walsh, project manager Duncan Taylor, William Rodger, Andy Maybury.
At the site, from left, Eileen Walsh, project manager Duncan Taylor, William Rodger, Andy Maybury.

A bid to build a 12-turbine wind farm near Bonchester Bridge was rejected by councillors this week.

Leeds-based EnergieKontor’s application to create the Pines Burn wind farm on the Harwood Estate, unveiled last year, was recommended by Scottish Borders Council officers for approval at Monday’s planning and building standards committee meeting.

Land at Harwood Estate where the 12-turbine wind farm could have been built.

Land at Harwood Estate where the 12-turbine wind farm could have been built.

However, the plans were thrown out, mainly because of their feared adverse effect on the landscape, properties and historic sites.

The controversial development, sparking 60 letters of objection and 52 in support, would have included a dozen turbines, seven of them 149.9m tall and the other five 20m shorter,

Philip Kerr, speaking on behalf of Hobkirk, Denholm, Hawick, Upper Teviotdale and Borthwick Water, Newcastleton and Southdean community councils, told the committee of their unanimous opposition to the plans.

He argued that the application’s landscape consultation is non-compliant with current guidelines, having been assessed against outdated supplementary guidance.

“At the heart of the issue is the unfortunate failure to follow the advice of the local planning reporter and the local development plan itself by producing supplementary guidance on renewable energy by May 2017,” he said.

“We just don’t have it, and we are still waiting.

“Communities like ours have been left vulnerable to developer opportunism by an absence of detailed policy guidance, leaving us unprotected on a range of issues at a time when there are so many massive wind applications appearing.

“Today, you are also being asked to determine an application based on outdated policies and using an out-of-date version of the guidance.”

He added: “All six community councils stand firm in our resolve to withstand unacceptable impacts on our community members.

“There is no evidence that this site is the optimal location within the myriad of applications we face.”

Committee members unanimously opposed the plans, with Hawick and Denholm councillor Clair Ramage seconding Galashiels councillor Sandy Aitchison’s motion by saying: “I just feel it’s detrimental to our landscape.

“It’s far too high, it impacts on Shankend Viaduct and a lot of our historic sites.

“When you see all of them in a row, the proposed turbines and the ones scoped it’s very concerning, I think.

“It’s such an area of beauty that we are going to spoil.”

Defending the plans, project manager Duncan Taylor told the committee: “This unique application is the only one in your area that has ever had the support of your planning service.

“If approved, we will build Pines Burn as a completely subsidy-free wind farm, something we would be immensely proud of.”

Speaking after the rejection, he added: “We are understandably disappointed by the decision.

“We are now considering our options.”