Members of the council’s Planning and Building Standards Committee have agreed an application from Energiekontor to extend the operational life of the Pines Burn Windfarm, south west of Lurgiescleuch, near Hawick, from 25 to 30 years.
Duncan Taylor, project manager for Energiekontor, explained that amid rising costs the extension was needed to make the windfarm economically viable.
He said: “Production costs have increased by £600,000 and while we have been making all possible cost savings an additional five years of operational life at Pines Burn is needed so the project finance can be spread over a longer term.
"This is a rare opportunity to make a windfarm of this size work.”
Hawick councillor Clair Ramage called for reassurances to be ‘carved in stone’ that there would be also be extended benefits to the local community as a result of agreeing the lifespan extension.
Meanwhile, fellow Hawick councillor Neil Richards was far from convinced as to the validity of the application
He added: “I don’t think the extra five years of an eyesore is ever going to be acceptable but it is a bit of a fait accompli really, isn’t it. Why not 40, why not 50? I’m more interested in the environmental side of it and when they will be getting the concrete out of the ground and restoring the site. No, 25 years is good enough for me.”
Councillor Jim Fullarton also expressed concern that agreeing the extension could risk setting a precedent.
He said: “An extension of five years seems pretty reasonable, but is this going to mean other windfarm operators thinking they should go for 30 years.
"We have got to be very careful over how we approach this.”
The original windfarm application failed to win over Borders councillors and they rejected the scheme in November 2017, saying it would have an adverse impact on the landscape and nearby historical sites.
But planning reporter Malcolm Mahony overturned the locally-elected members decision.
He decided that the project’s benefits outweighed any impacts on landscape or tourism.