Councillors, the general public and walkers will be heartened by the decision of the inquiry reporter to uphold Scottish Borders Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for the Minch Moor wind farm.
This will be the second time in the Borders that the reporter has sustained the council’s decision not to grant planning permission for a wind farm, but critically there are still further wind farm applications which are pending planning permission decisions.
One such important application is the revised Broadmeadows wind farm.
Like all such applications the developers have made only slight revisions to the original rejected scheme and this new application is soon to come before the local authority for planning consideration. Let us hope that the councillors will again see the damage this wind farm would have on tourism and especially activity holidays and pursuits if it were to be approved.
Walking both in terms of local participation and as it relates to the area’s tourism industry is sizeable and growing, bringing large sums of money into the local economy.
The area associated with the Broadmeadows application is directly on what is one of the region’s best hill walks, and on the Southern Upland Way and Sir Walter Scott Way long distance walking routes. To have such an important path passing so closely to the proposed turbines would deter many if not most of the walkers, not to mention others enjoying their pursuits, be it cross-country running, cycling or equestrian.
In addition to the discomfort felt by walking close to these massive turning structures, there is also the visual impact, with stunning views from the core path being interrupted and views into this area spoilt for miles around.
The growth of walking as a leisure pursuit and holiday is in part related to the desire of participants to escape from the day-to-day pressures and noise of their busy lifestyle and to recharge their batteries in more tranquil and beautiful surroundings. This tranquillity and expansive unspoilt countryside is already being challenged by the many already approved and established wind farms.
As a region we are in danger of damaging this valuable asset with the heavy density of wind farms that already exists in many parts. Councillors need to consider both the cumulative effect of wind farms as well as the damage to tourism and the leisure economy that approval of the Broadmeadows wind farm would bring.
As an individual whose business depends on the strength of walking tourism in the Borders I firmly believe that wind turbines so positioned on Broadmeadows Hill will have a very negative impact on my business and to countless others who provide services to the walkers.
Let’s hope the reporter’s decision on the Minch Moor application will strengthen the resolve of the councillors when they have to vote on the Broadmeadows scheme and that there will be a large majority voting to turn down the application.