Wind farm plan recommended for approval

Project stakeholders at the site, from left, Eileen Walsh, North Bridge Street B&B; Duncan Taylor, Project Manager at EnergieKontor; William Rodger, Rodger (Builders) Ltd; Andy Maybury, Greener Hawick.
Project stakeholders at the site, from left, Eileen Walsh, North Bridge Street B&B; Duncan Taylor, Project Manager at EnergieKontor; William Rodger, Rodger (Builders) Ltd; Andy Maybury, Greener Hawick.

A controversial bid to build a wind farm near Bonchester Bridge is being recommended for approval by planners next week.

More than 60 objections have been lodged against plans to erect the 12-turbine Pines Burn wind farm development on the Harlow Estate, but Scottish Borders Council planning officers are recommending it is shown the green light by the authority’s planning and building standards committee on Monday.

The site of the proposed Pines Burn Wind Farm on the Harlaw Estate, near Bonchester Bridge, Hawick.

The site of the proposed Pines Burn Wind Farm on the Harlaw Estate, near Bonchester Bridge, Hawick.

Leeds-based EnergieKontor UK’s proposals for a dozen turbines, seven of them 149.9m tall and the other five 20m shorter, have split opinion since they were unveiled last year.

They have sparked 60 letters of objection and 52 in support, but Hobkirk, Jed Valley, Denholm, Hawick, Upper Teviotdale and Borthwick Water, Newcastleton and Southdean community councils have been unanimous in their opposition.

EnergieKontor held two rounds of public exhibitions, in July and November last year, before submitting a revised application, including a reduction in height of seven of the proposed turbines and the repositioning of three, in January this year.

However, Philip Kerr, chairman of both Southdean Community Council and Chesters Wind Farm Action Group, still has reservations about the scheme.

He says the recommendation to approve it has caused consternation among objectors concerned about the height of the turbines and their visual impact.

However, stakeholders and supporters backing the proposals have welcomed the potential they offer for job creation and boosting the local economy.

EnergieKontor says it would run a local procurement policy, giving preference to companies that employ local people and source materials within the Borders.

The firm has also committed to a £1.2m funding programme with the Borders Further Education Trust, and if the project gets the go-ahead, the trust will receive £50,000 annually over the 25-year lifetime of the wind farm.

Project manager Duncan Taylor said: “We are really looking forward to bringing our funding programmes forward should Pines Burn receive approval at committee.

“These programmes, along with our procurement policy, will help to boost the Scottish Borders’ economy by creating work opportunities and jobs for local people.

“The decision to recommend approval not only reflects the planning compliance of the application but also recognises the project’s important contribution to the regional economy, as well as the local support for the project.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community, who have constructively engaged with us throughout the application process, allowing us to propose a project that will deliver significant benefits.”

Chief planning officer Ian Aikman’s report states: “The construction phase would last for 12 to 18 months, and the development would have a 25-year operational phase.

“The wind farm would provide 36mw of installed capacity. It is accepted that the proposal would make a moderate contribution towards energy targets.”

He concludes: “It is considered that the detrimental impacts of the proposal are not so significant as to warrant refusal.”