It’s like waiting for the axe to fall, or the trapdoor to open beneath one’s feet, as we await the arrival of the planning application by Partnership for Renewables (PfR) to place 18 wind turbines, each 400 feet high at the blade tip, in Cloich Forest – the wedge of land owned by Forestry Commission Scotland south of Leadburn, between the A703 and the A701, and overlooking Eddleston to the east, and Halmyre and West Linton to the west.
The power lines required to export the power will be the subject of a separate planning application.
And when the application is made, individuals or communities may argue against it, but only on “material planning concerns”, so that the thinking behind wind farms, the warped finances which place immense sums in the hands of landowners and developers, and result in inexorably-higher utility bills for everyone, all remain unchallenged.
Similarly unchallenged is the policy that has determined that wind farms, with their very low efficiency and inconsistent provision of electricity, provide the only answer to a future energy shortfall. Hydro, tidal, wave and nuclear power are more efficient, and more consistent, but rejected in favour of wind.
And this cannot be questioned, for it is Scottish Government policy. And the Scottish Government has similarly determined that we cannot question that policy – we, the people, can only be trusted to register “material planning concerns”.
So, those of us who do not wish to see yet another wind farm despoiling the landscape, tourist industry, wildlife, birdlife, natural environment and natural water supplies – essential to households and livestock – must trawl through the planning application, line by line, to spot flaws in the argument.
The cards, or arguments, are all stacked against us. But should we prevail, should we, by the strength of our “material planning concerns” and by public meetings, persuade our communities and Scottish Borders Council to reject this planning application, it may come to nought. For the Scottish Government has also determined that it can approve a development of this size against the wishes of local people, local communities and local government.
It is, at best, perverse. We seem to live in a world where somehow concerns about climate change and energy provision have developed into some simplistic, “Climate change bad – wind farms good” slogan. This is not only simplistic, it is plain wrong.
Whatever the causes of climate change – and they are many – proliferation of wind farms is not the answer. We pay insufficient attention to energy conservation, to using less, or to other forms of alternative power, or lower emission forms of carbon-based fuels, such as natural gas.
And how can it make environmental sense to pour thousands of tons of concrete into this beautiful landscape, to endorse the industrialisation of the countryside? Should this development go ahead, we shall have a sad, ugly sight, which will not benefit the community.
Yet those who say so, those who question not merely the Scottish Government’s policy on this issue, not merely the ground rules it has put in place, but the entire premise of the relentless pursuit of wind power, whatever the cost to the consumer, are treated as latter-day Holocaust deniers, finding little if any chance to state their case, drowned out by a “green lobby” increasingly tempted by the so-called community benefit sweeteners offered by developers.
Those benefits, whatever they may be, must be paid for. We shall all see them in our inexorably-increasing utility bills.
So, we wait for the axe to fall.