Top cleric in turbine plea

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Top Church of England cleric, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is in danger of being dragged into a row over plans for a Borders wind farm.

It stems from preliminary proposals to site a large-scale wind farm south of Chesters, near Hawick.

Two land ownerships are involved, one consisting of farmland and the other, which makes up the bulk of the site, in Dykeraw Forest, which is owned by the church.

The developer involved, renewable energy giant, RES, will now apply to the Scottish Government, given the scale of the project, which is up to 37 turbines, measuring up to 150m high to blade tip.

A mast at Highlee Hill has been collecting wind speed data and RES wants a scoping opinion from the Government on information needed in its environmental statement. Philip Kerr, vice-chair of Southdean Community Council, has already contacted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office at Lambeth Palace over local concerns, but is still awaiting a reply.

“What Southdean Community Council is interested in, is not only speaking to the developer, but also to the church commissioners, to ask them about the effects the development would have on our community,” he said.

“If the community wants to get involved, that’s one thing. But, when you look at scale of what is proposed, ‘incredulity’ is the word that comes to mind.

“If they were to try and ram something of that nature through, it wouldn’t seem a particularly church-like thing to do.”

However, a Church Commissioners spokesperson said they recognised such proposals can be “sensitive” matters, and must be balanced with an eye to the common good.

“We therefore support community engagement within the national planning process.

“We will consider the outcome of the planning process, which is democratic and representative, and takes proper account of the impact of building turbines in this location.”