Inquiry under way into plans for wind farm near Hawick

What Birneyknowe wind farm, near Hawick, would look like.
What Birneyknowe wind farm, near Hawick, would look like.

A public inquiry has begun into plans for a 15-turbine wind farm south east of Hawick.

The hearing into the proposed Birneyknowe development opened at Minto Golf Club today, March 7, following a two-day postponement due to the recent wintry weather.

County Durham firm Banks Renewables wants to erect 15 turbines up to 132m tall on land near Stobs Castle, and it says the project could yield a £2.5m community benefit fund to support local groups and good causes.

However, Scottish Borders Council feels the scheme is not appropriate because of the landscape, visual and cultural impact it would have.

Giving evidence, landscape architect Brian Denney, a witness for the applicant, acknowledged that the development would have a “significant impact” on the landscape character and on parts of the landscape surrounding the site, but he insisted that it would not constitute an intrusion.

Addressing concerns over the impact on the Teviot Valleys special landscape area (SLA), Mr Denney told the opening hearing: “Intrusion suggests a greater degree of harm, such that the key characteristics and qualities of the SLA would be diminished to a material degree.

“It is not understood that any of the effects identified in relation to the Birneyknowe proposals should be considered to have reached such a degree of harm.

“In all instances, even where significant effects have been identified, the overriding characteristics and features of the SLA, and its landmark features, with their pastoral and woodland settings, would remain.”

Reporter David Liddell said evidence would be heard over a number of days, with final submissions due to be made on April 2 and 9.