Fears of traffic chaos if turbines get green light

THE chaos caused on small rural roads in Northumberland by construction traffic to a wind farm site could be repeated in the Borders if the developer gets the go-ahead to build similar projects in this region.

That was the warning from campaigners battling against plans by Infinis for wind farms at Cummings Hill, four miles south of Jedburgh near Chesters, and at Windy Edge, close to Hermitage Castle.

Infinis intends submitting planning applications this spring to Scottish Borders Council for seven turbines up to 126.5m in height (to blade tip) at Cummings Hill, with another 20 similar in size earmarked for Windy Edge.

But Philip Kerr, chair of Chesters Wind Farm Action Group, and his opposite number at the Hermitage Action Group, Malcolm McGregor, want Scottish Borders councillors to contact local authority representatives in the Longhorsley area of Northumberland and get an update concerning what they described as the “dreadful experience” of the local community during Infinis’ construction of the Wingates wind farm.

The two men’s concerns were exacerbated after several recent incidents in Northumberland, including a vehicle delivering a turbine part becoming stuck for over an hour and another, in December, when a crane blocked the same road after icy conditions caused it to skid.

Details of the proposed traffic routes which Infinis hope to use for its construction traffic to the two Borders developments are expected to be submitted shortly, along with the planning applications. These, said Mr McGregor, will need detailed and careful scrutiny to determine their viability.

“We are all aware of the nature of the roads in Upper Liddesdale and how vital their continued accessibility for the whole community of Liddesdale, including Newcastleton, is,” Mr McGregor told TheSouthern. He went on: “The thought of the emergency services, school buses and residents on their way to and from their workplace, being caught up in these sort of road blockages and slow-moving loads, as experienced in Northumberland, would be a nightmare. Our road network in this part of the Borders was never designed for these kinds of abnormal loads being placed upon them – they struggle enough with the forestry wagons as it is.

“Obviously, the thought of hundreds of loads of aggregates for the turbine foundations, passing along the roads as well, and possibly through the Holm, will make matters even worse.”

A recent letter to the developers from SBC planning officer John Hiscox highlighted a number of concerns from the council, including the potential traffic impact and, in particular, the traffic impact on Chesters village.

In their response to Mr Hiscox, the agents for Infinis, Jones Lang LaSalle, said the local authority’s fears on a number of matters – which also includes the potential visual impact from such iconic landmarks as the Carter Bar – were noted.

“Only once all of the assessments are concluded and the potential effects known will it be appropriate to consider and arrive at a view as to the acceptance or otherwise of the proposals,” stated Jones Lang LaSalle director Craig Wallace.