It’s understandable that local construction firms see valuable opportunities for work in the building of new wind farms in the Borders.
But last week’s letter in your paper from a small group of local firms obscures the underlying issue in the debate on wind farm development in this area.
Independent figures show that the Borders already has approved considerably more megawatt (MW) of wind energy per 1,000 of population than any other local authority area in Scotland. This level of investment will already have been of benefit to the construction industry – and construction of wind farms in the Borders will undoubtedly continue.
The critical issue now is where the line is drawn between, on the one hand, supporting national targets for renewable energy generation by facilitating such developments and, on the other, safeguarding local communities and local landscapes from inappropriate development.
There needs to be a balance. Scottish Borders Council has now – to its great credit – tried to achieve such a balance with its new supplementary planning guidance on wind farms.
One aspect of the guidance is that it identifies areas where commercial wind farms may not be appropriate.
But the other aspect is that the guidance identifies areas where such wind farms could be more appropriate. In so doing, it’s providing a helpful steer to wind farm developers. So, wind farms will still be built in the Borders – and therefore there will be continuing opportunities for local construction firms to bid for work.
The particular concern in last week’s letter related to the proposed wind farm development at Broadmeadows in the Yarrow Valley.
So why shouldn’t this development go ahead? Well, the recent spate of letters to your paper – from people across the community – seems to me to have pretty much said it all.
The Broadmeadows site is close to major scenic landmarks, including the iconic Three Brethren viewpoint. It’s directly adjacent to an established network of local trails which, as your letter writers have graphically shown, are much loved. Two communities – Yarrowford and Clovenfords – will be affected. And, last but not least, the site is practically next door to the site at Minch Moor where a government reporter has now endorsed the view of the council that such a development would be unacceptable.
So let us trust that when the Broadmeadows application comes to be considered, a measured, dispassionate and, above all, balanced judgement will prevail. And, from the standpoint of the construction industry, even if the opportunity to bid for work here doesn’t come about, the capability of the new supplementary planning guidance to facilitate further wind farm development in the right places should ensure that openings for local firms in the construction of such sites will continue.
My wife and I have just enjoyed a week’s holiday at Aberfeldy.
While there we climbed Munros, walked hills and tracks, both of us appreciating the absence of wind turbines.
Is the Borders a soft touch for developers as we near wall-to-wall coverage of wind turbines?
If our landscape is to be littered with wind farms, is it not just that our governments should require they are undertaken on a not-for-profit basis?