Fury over plans to rip up village beech trees

Cummings Hill. Beech trees and carter bar
Cummings Hill. Beech trees and carter bar

Southdean’s Facebook page received record viewings for a photograph of century-old beech trees that a wind farm developer wants to rip out.

Last month renewable energy firm, Infinis, lodged a planning application for seven giant turbines at Cummings Hill, near Chesters, which sits at the centre of the parish of Southdean, south of Jedburgh.

But as part of the scheme, contractors would have to tear up 140m of beech trees which line a local road.

And, as well as outrage over the loss of these trees, there is anger over the estimated 24,000 construction traffic movements that would be necessary.

When the picture of the beech trees was posted on the community’s Facebook page last week, a record 1,147 logged on to have a look.

On its website, Infinis states the Cummings Hill site would see “minimum environmental effects”.

But Southdean resident and community councillor Hugh Roberts says Infinis clearly has a different understanding of the term ‘negligible’ when it comes to environmental impact.

“I asked Infinis about the impact of HGV and turbine transportation through Chesters and was assured that traffic movements and alterations needed to the village to move turbines would be negligible,” he told us.

“Now I am enlightened, I understand that ripping out 140 metres of beech trees, 19 HGVs an hour on narrow rural roads for a nine-month period, wind turbines located less than 1km from a settlement – the recommended minimum is 2.5km – are all negligible impacts.

“Other ‘negligible’ impacts are the destruction of habitats of hen harriers, short-eared owls, goshawks, otters and red squirrels, to name but a few.

“And I assume that the iconic view from Carter Bar will only be negligibly affected,” he said.

And he added: “This better understanding of wind farm terminology will help us picture impacts much more clearly when the other developers who are also queueing up to build turbines near Chesters use it.”

Among the Facebook posts was one from David Skinner, who wrote: “The trees are full of chaffinches and bramblings feeding on the beech mast [beechnuts] during the winter – not just a neglected hedge as described in planning document.”

And Martin Richardson added: “Too high a price to pay for green energy”