No to Corsbie Moor inquiry, says council

scottish Borders Council believes a public inquiry into its decision to turn down Corsbie Moor wind farm bid is not needed, writes Kenny Paterson.

E.ON Climate and Renewables has submitted an appeal to the Scottish Government against the ruling by SBC’s planning committee to unanimously reject its nine-turbine application in respect of a site near Lauder.

The case will now be considered by Scottish Government reporter Trevor Croft, but in a letter to Holyrood, an SBC planning spokesman requested a potentially lengthy and costly inquiry be avoided.

He wrote: “This council does not consider it necessary to hold an inquiry in order for this appeal to be properly examined and determined.

“The reasons for which the application was refused are capable of being fully considered by current written representations and accompanied or unaccompanied site visit (s) by the reporter.”

The response reiterated the local authority’s belief that the application would be out of scale with the landscape, with each windmill standing at 126.5 metres in height.

And SBC repeated its belief that the proposal would have a significant adverse impact on walkers using the Southern Upland Way, notably the iconic Twin Law Cairns viewpoint on the Lammermuir Hills.

But in its submission to the Scottish Government, E.ON argues that its proposal is well designed and sensitively sited.

The statement added: “The scale and nature of the landscape, together with the choice of turbine height, results in a scheme which sits well and is accommodated in the landscape.

“The layout is cohesive and visually balanced, and it fits well in the landform.”

E.ON representatives believe that while the scheme will have a significant effect on the locality, these are outweighed by the benefits, including helping to meet the Scottish Government’s green energy target of 50 per cent by 2015. In 2011, around 35 per cent of the country’s electricity demand was from renewable resources.

Planning officials in September recommended refusal of the application, despite a second reduction in the proposed number of turbines.

E.ON originally wanted to build 21 machines, but that was reduced to 12 and then nine, which the Coventry-based energy giant claims could supply power to 13,000 homes.

The application, first submitted in June 2011, attracted more than 200 letters of objection, as well as opposition from community councils for Lauderdale, Gordon and Westruther, Cranshaws, Ellemford and Longformacus and Earlston.

There were no objections from the Ministry of Defence or Historic Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage, though not formally objecting, expressed serious concerns.

Those wishing to submit their views on the Corsbie Moor appeal can do so until January 14.