Heritage agency slams castle turbine scheme

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A medieval castle rated as being of national importance and which symbolises the very nature of Borderers is at risk from a proposed wind farm.

So says Historic Scotland, the national government agency tasked with protecting the country’s most important historical sites, when commenting on proposals to erect 17 turbines close to Hermitage Castle.

The Southern has already reported concerns that if the application for a wind farm at Windy Edge from energy firm, Infinis, gets approval, then an internationally important population of breeding hen harriers could be affected.

Now, as well as the objection from Historic Scotland, opposition has also come from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society.

But it is Historic Scotland that has been most vocal in its condemnation.

In its statement just lodged with Scottish Borders Council, Historic Scotland describes Hermitage as one of the least disturbed major medieval castles.

Dating from the 13th century, the massive stone fortress was the seat of the wardens of the Middle March and the lords of Liddesdale, and boasted a fearsome reputation as ‘the guardhouse of the bloodiest valley in Britain’.

Surrounded by a well-preserved and medieval field system and farmsteads, Historic Scotland states there are very few places in the Borders where it is still possible to view a medieval castle within such a well-preserved relict landscape.

“It is a symbol of the area representing the qualities of strength and resilience in which the Borderers take pride,” said the agency, adding: “We have strong concerns that the proposed wind farm would have a significant adverse impact on the setting of Hermitage Castle.”

Malcolm McGregor, chairman of the Hermitage Action Group (HAG) campaigning against the proposals, says Historic Scotland’s objection is another nail in the coffin of the turbine plan.

“This is overwhelming evidence, in the view of HAG, that this misconceived application by Infinis should never have even been considered in the first place,” he said.

An Infinis spokesman, Chris Little, said the energy company was currently considering Historic Scotland’s response.

And he added: Considerations about Hermitage Castle were an important part of the design process for this project from the start.”

Infinis’ application is now expected to come before the planning committee early next year.