A 16-TURBINE wind farm development near Heriot will be seen from as far as Fife and beyond, it has been claimed by a local councillor.
However, Stow resident Sandy Aitchison admits the 115metre-high turbines at land close to Gilston Farm would unlikely be seen across the Borders – but believes it would still have an “enormous” visual affect.
Oxfordshire-based RidgeWind Limited has applied for seven turbines with Scottish Borders Council and nine with neighbouring Midlothian Council on the site which sits on the border between the two regions.
Galashiels and District councillor Mr Aitchison said: “In many ways it is simply another bit of the Gala Water/Leader Water ridge that is gradually filling up with wind turbines and if all the application and future applications are approved it will be end-to-end windmills from the Lothian fault line to the Tweed basin.
“When SBC planners called this area the “preferred area” of wind farm development in the Local Plan, I don’t think they envisaged that the whole area would be covered with the things.
“It seems the march of wind turbines is unstoppable because it is quite obviously a Scottish Government and UK Government policy and it is difficult to stop this inexorable advance.”
The Borders Party member added: “On this particular proposal it is one which will be seen from Fife and most of East Lothian and Midlothian, and probably, on a good day, much further, but will have little visual effect on the Borders area.
“This does not mean I am dismissing its importance, quite the contrary. I am saying its visual effect on the landscape will be enormous.”
But RidgeWind, which says the development would take 12 to 14 months to complete, claim its plans have been “carefully considered to minimise landscape and visual impacts”.
But the firm did admit in a planning statement to Midlothian Council: “Some significant effects on landscape character are predicted where the proposed development would be seen in conjunction with the existing Dun Law wind farms, consented Pogbie wind farm, and proposed Keith Hill and Dere Street wind farms.
“These effects would occur for landscapes along the northern edge of the Moorfoot and Lammermuir Hills, as well as the foothills and minor ridges directly north.
“These landscape character effects include a major/moderate effect on the northern extent of Lauder Common in the vicinity of the Dun Law wind farms, although effects further south would not be significant.”
The statement also claims there would be no serious effect on nearby settlements such as Heriot, while it noted some bird species such as black grouse could be “displaced” as a result of the proposed wind farm, causing an adverse affect.
But with numbers increasing in the Borders, RidgeWind says the loss of the birds would not equal a significant loss.
The company also claims the best route to access the Gilston Farm location is via the A68 rather than the A7, and estimated it would make annual community benefit payments of more than £100,000 to local communities if its application was successful.
A decision is expected on the Scottish Borders Council section of the planning bid in May.