Councillors concern over Scottish Government's drive for more onshore wind turbines

Wind farm drive.Wind farm drive.
Wind farm drive.
Concern has been raised that a government drive to push ahead with further onshore wind turbine developments will prove a 'significant ask' for the Scottish Borders.

The Scottish government sees onshore wind as having a vital role in delivering its net zero and climate change targets by 2030.

It has launched a consultation which cites its ambition for an additional eight to 12 Gigawatts - in the region of 200 new schemes - to be installed by that date.

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A large proportion of that target would need be generated in the Borders, which has already seen 550 wind turbine schemes given the go-ahead.

And in a response to the latest targets a report from Scottish Borders Council, presented to members of the authority's full council on Thursday, January 27, highlighted concerns about the capacity of the region's landscape to absorb further development on the scale proposed - without it resulting in a significant environmental impact.

The authority's response acknowledges the need for climate change and net zero targets but outlines that robust scrutiny is needed to put the 'right turbine in the right place' and that the importance of protecting the landscape and the environment must be given appropriate weight in the decision-making process.

Developments which do go ahead also need to provide the maximum economic and social benefits to communities, the council's response adds.

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Simon Mountford, Scottish Borders Council's executive member for enhancing the built environment and natural heritage, said the government's aims represented a "very ambitious onshore wind strategy".

He said: "In the Borders we have already approved 550 wind turbines with an estimated total generated capacity of more than 900 Megawatts and the reality is that many, if not most, of the best sites have already been developed, and that's not including a number of sites that we as a planning authority opposed, but which were subsequently approved.

"As a council we have a robust policy on renewable energy based on the principle of the 'right development in the right place'. Renewables, that's solar, hydra, tidal, as well as wind, make a vital contribution to our energy mix - but their development much not jeopardise the Borders high quality environment and landscape."

Coun Euan Robson said: "It's interesting to read the onshore wind policy statement because it talks about additional capacity of eight to 12 Gigawatts, so we are looking at possibly another 200 schemes. The concern is that the Scottish Borders is going to be asked to take far too many of these."