March of the wind farms

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Several weeks ago, four communities received a newsletter outlining ABO Wind’s proposals for a seven-turbine wind farm at Barrel Law south of Ashkirk, near a previously-approved wind farm at Langhope Rig.

The Langhope developer, Airtricity, in 2006, said it did not intend to extend the Langhope site. Now the worst fears of further encroachment voiced by many who opposed Langhope Rig may well be realised if ABO Wind’s Barrel Law plan was to be approved.

Residents surrounding the Crystal Rig developments in the Lammermuirs have seen the initial construction of 25 turbines proliferate to around 90.

Similar concerns may well surface for the residents and numerous visitors to the Cheviots and surrounding areas. Consultants have provisionally recommended the exclusion of the fantastic vista of hill country between Morebattle and the Carter Bar as a “special landscape area”.

Anyone who has visited that area must be shaking their head in disbelief and despair, unless of course you happen be a landowner there who might be contemplating the prospect of a wind farm and the financial bonanza of some £10,000 per turbine per year for the next quarter of a century.

In the wild hills of Liddesdale yet another proposal is afoot within sight of Hermitage Castle.

ABO Wind, in the second paragraph of its newsletter, lays out glittering gifts on the community table. Over the lifetime of the site at Barrel Law its payments could amount to over £2million.

This is a tiny proportion of the enormous subsidies they receive from all of us through our rapidly escalating utility bills.

A single wind turbine qualifies for £250,000 per year in consumer-funded subsidy and generates £150,000 from the sale of electricity. This amounts to £70million over the lifetime of the installation.

ABO Wind goes on to mention its role in reducing carbon emissions by standing shoulder to shoulder with the Scottish Executive in its fantasy of meeting all of Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Several UK power companies have recently told the government that 17 new gas-fired power stations will be needed, simply to provide a back-up to wind farms during unfavourable weather. This was highlighted on the national news on Sunday when it was announced that the wind farm companies in the Borders are to be awarded £1.2million in “constraint” payments because the National Grid is not technically able handle the surge of power produced during the recent stormy weather.

The back-up requirement alone blows a huge hole in the developers’ claims of carbon reduction emissions.

It was recently announced that by 2030, limitless, pollution-free energy in the form of nuclear fusion will finally be in scientist’s grasp.

In the meantime we will have to make do with a mix of what we have and if wind is to play a part of that mix, for goodness sake forget further land-based options and go to sea.

Yes, there will still be environmental considerations. It will be more expensive to install, but there is at least 70 per cent more wind out there. Maybe enough of our treasured landscape will survive the march of the turbines. By 2026 there will be more than 15,000 new residents in the central Borders, enticed here supposedly to revitalise the region and help make the new railway viable. Hopefully they will still have somewhere peaceful to enjoy and to restore their weary souls.

Nei1 J. Bryce

Ettrick