THE iconic landmark that is the Three Brethren, rising between the Yarrow and Tweed Valleys near Selkirk, was the focus of a quiet demonstration on Sunday by people committed to fighting two wind farm developments.
Around 50 all-aged representatives of the Selkirk/Yarrowford, Walkerburn and Clovenfords communities made the three-mile journey, most on foot, some on horseback and others by mountain bike.
From the three cairns, erected at the start of the 16th century by the lairds of Yair, Selkirk and Philiphaugh to mark the boundary of their lands, the hardy gathering could, on the clearest of early spring days, see in the far distance the 90 or so turbines at Bowbeat, Dun Law, Halkburn and Toddleburn.
But the concerns of the visitors lay much closer to home and their journey was organised to highlight their concerns about two impending wind farm developments with eight turbines planned for Broadmeadows near Yarrowford – within two kilmetres of the Three Brethren – and 12 giant windmills proposed further west at Minchmoor.
“These are real threats to a remote and, as yet, unspoilt part of the Borders,” said Stewart Bell, secretary of Clovenfords Community Council, who organised Sunday’s hilltop event.
The Broadmeadows proposal from Greenpower has been in progress since 2004 and is now awaiting a decision by Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee.
The Minchmoor development, from Vattenfall, dates back to 2003, but last year, it was rejected by SBC. It is now being considered at appeal by a Scottish Government reporter, Robert Maslin, who has decided to make a determination on the basis of written submissions rather than via a public inquiry.
“Unlike many of the other appeal decisions on wind farms over the past few years our communities feel they will have no opportunity to present their concerns in a face-to-face meeting with the reporter,” said Mr Bell.
“We expect decisions to be made in the next few months on both these proposals so now we have to put our trust in the thoroughness of the Mr Maslin in regard to the Minchmoor appeal and in the wisdom of planning councillors charged to a make a decision on Broadmeadows.
“The Southern Upland Way [SUP] is identified by SBC as one of only seven strategic pathways meriting particular protection from the cumulative impact of wind farm developments. An iconic high point on this remote route is the viewpoint of the Three Brethren, around which SBC has proposed there should be a buffer area to protect the beauty and tranquility of this section of the SUP from the intrusion of wind turbines.
“On Sunday after lunch, we all agreed that the impact in the distance of the visible developments already operating, mostly 15 to 20 miles away, will be as nothing compared to 20 turbines, each 115m high and sited along the SUP.
“Not only will turbines be visible from our towns and villages; but the SUP, with turbines along this section, will no longer be a tranquil upland route and the spectacular open view west from the Three Brethren will be gone – at least for our lifetime.”