Ill wind and financial good

Sadly, I have noticed that the application for the erection of a 74m (almost 243ft) high wind turbine south-east of Standhill Farm Cottage, near Denholm, which was withdrawn just before Christmas 2011, has been resubmitted for approval.

I had hoped that the applicant of the original application had listened to the majority of people living in and around the Denholm and Lilliesleaf area, and had taken on board their genuine concerns. Listening in itself would have been quite refreshing, but actually using the information gleaned to determine whether or not to proceed with the project would have been quite extraordinary.

Unfortunately, the new application is, with the exception of the odd tweak towards a “greener” image, exactly the same as the original, yet a special community council meeting is being held, enabling the applicant to present the “new” application to local people.

I believe the purpose of this meeting, as far as the applicant is concerned, will not be to listen and amend his thinking, but to present and argue an unchanged stance. The cumulative impacts of commercial wind turbine installations are already visually obvious across the region, and this can only degenerate further with the granting of this and other future applications. Indeed, the previous application, submitted only eight months ago, referred to nine developments within a 25km radius, whereas the new one recognises 13 developments.

While their presence might not deter tourists from visiting the Borders initially, they will certainly deter a good many from wanting to repeat the experience.

It’s well known in customer-facing businesses that only a small proportion of dissatisfied customers actually voice their complaints. The majority leave, saying nothing, but, because of the diminished experience, leave without an intention to return.

In time that negative experience will inevitably be passed onto family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues, potentially losing the Borders even more tourism revenue and maybe even prospective new residents.

While I fully appreciate the ecological and commercial arguments for wind turbines, I really do not believe that their introduction to an aesthetically beautiful, rural area such as the Borders should be to the detriment of the local amenity or the landscape which has proved so attractive to UK visitors and overseas tourists for many a year.

Can the applicant and his agent really be so naive as to believe that the planning committee, other Borders councillors and the majority of people living in both the local and wider communities can be persuaded to accept that the erection of a 243ft-high wind turbine located in the proposed site would actually be a thing of great beauty and of immeasurable advantage to all those living in its shadow?

It is indeed an “ill wind that blows nobody any good”, but in this case it would appear that all the good is financial and is being blown towards the applicant and his business partners. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, provided the turbine was of a more moderate scale, was to be located in a more sympathetic site and if the project met all the applicable planning considerations.

So why, with so much resistance to the plan and with so many very valid concerns and objections to its implementation, does the applicant still wish to pursue such an expensive path to the realisation of this project? Unless, of course, he knows something the rest of us don’t.

Are we talking politics here? If the planning officer was to recommend rejection, what is the likelihood of the council overturning this in favour of satisfying government green energy targets? It would make a bit of a mockery of the whole resource-intensive planning process, not to mention letting down those whom councillors are voted in to represent.

I would ask your readers to join me in objecting to the granting of this and any further potentially long-term damaging, high-profile wind turbine projects.

George W. Miller

Weirgate Avenue

St Boswells