LOOKING to the Lauderdale horizon, all the eye can see is a forest of giant wind turbines blanketing the landscape.
At least this is the future that awaits this picturesque area of the Borders, if, according to the Lauderdale Preservation Group (LPG), all the pending wind farm projects get the go-ahead.
The pressure group has now lodged a photographic montage of what this would look like in reality as part of its submission to the Scottish Government committee, which is currently holding an inquiry into renewable energy targets.
And LPG says long-standing relationships between neighbours are also being destroyed due to the divisive nature of cash incentives dangled in front of Borders communities by wind farm developers.
“We are deeply concerned by the divisive effect of these applications on rural communities and the way in which long standing relationships between neighbours are being destroyed,” state the report’s authors. “We are further very disturbed by the lack of consideration given to residents by the planning process and the way in which it appears to be biased towards the interests of developers and against those of local people.
“Our conclusion is that the relentless pursuit of over-optimistic renewables targets will destroy rural communities and damage the credibility of government and institutions amongst rural residents.”
There are presently around 2,000 onshore wind turbines in operation or under construction in Scotland. If proposed targets for renewable energy were to be met, LPG estimates that up to 8,500 could be required, depending on precisely how the Government’s target of 100 per cent of electricity from renewables is to be interpreted.
LPG chairman, Professor Jack Ponton, says any contribution Scotland makes to reducing greenhouse gases – the main culprit behind climate change – is virtually worthless, as increased emissions from rapidly developing nations such as China and India will simply overwhelm any reductions made in the developed world.
“I was shocked when I did the sums. Even if Scotland met all its targets by 2020, it would take just five days for that reduction to be overhauled by emissions from India and China. It is not a case of doing nothing – it is a case of not doing the wrong, expensive and ultimately damaging thing,” he told TheSouthern this week.
And, when it comes to the Borders, LPG’s report, to which Professor Ponton was a major contributor, says while Scottish Borders Council’s recent supplementary planning guidance on wind energy is a largely well-balanced document, its 50 pages contain less than one side of a page addressing the issues of impact on residents.
Professor Ponton, a civil engineering expert, also blames the ‘community benefit’ of wind farms, where communities close to turbines enjoy a financial spin-off from the profits of electricity generation, for causing a serious rift between people.
“We’ve seen what has been happening in our own community and I’ve heard other reports from different people in the Lammermuirs. This so-called community benefit has people at each other’s throats over money. It’s quite horrifying,” he added.
Asked for his view, local Lauderdale Scottish Borders councillor, John Paton-Day, agrees with LPG that the area has reached saturation point as far as numbers of wind farms are concerned.
“It’s now one step too far in my book,” he told TheSouthern this week. “This region, especially Lauderdale, already has enough wind farms and those that are proposed are just too much.
“Our area is trying to improve things like tourism and this doesn’t help in any way. I’m not happy with what is happening and support the efforts of the LPG.”