Joy as reporter blows away appeal over wind turbine plan for Broadmeadows

Newark Castle, Bowhill, Selkirk.
Newark Castle, Bowhill, Selkirk.

THERE was jubilation this week after a Scottish Government reporter threw out the appeal from energy company Greenpower over the refusal to let it erect eight turbines in one of the most picturesque landscapes in the Borders.

Greenpower has spent almost eight years trying to gain consent for the group of 112m-high turbines at Broadmeadows Farm in the heart of the Yarrow Valley.

The company’s proposals for the Broadmeadows site, which lies close to the Southern Upland Way, were scaled down from the original 13 to eight of the 112m-high structures, but this still failed to appease councillors.

Their refusal to grant consent last June came just two months after the Newtown-based planning authority’s decision to also boot into touch an application for 12 turbines at Minch Moor, just two miles west of the Broadmeadows site, from Swedish energy giant, Vattenfall, and which was also upheld by the reporter to Scottish ministers.

Greenpower opted to appeal the local authority’s decision, but the council’s refusal has now been confirmed by reporter, Michael Cunliffe.

Greenpower had claimed the energy needs of about 12,000 homes could be met by the turbines, but Mr Cunliffe felt the scheme would have “significant adverse effects” on the landscape.

“I find that the proposed development would not accord with the development plan, by reason of its unacceptable landscape and visual impacts, including, in particular, its effects on Broadmeadows/Yarrowford, the Southern Upland Way and the setting of Newark Castle,” stated Mr Cunliffe in his report.

Councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre, SBC executive member for planning and environment, and the Selkirkshire member of the planning committee, said the reporter had agreed with the council that the Broadmeadows proposal would have been the wrong development in the wrong place.

“Our landscape is our greatest asset in the Borders and it is really brilliant news that we have stopped these giant turbines from looming over the Yarrow Valley,” she said.

“I hope that companies considering applications for wind farms in the Borders will all take note that our new planning policy cannot be ridden over roughshod.”

Tweeddale East councillor Gavin Logan, who lives in Clovenfords and is the ward member of the planning committee, was also delighted by the reporter’s decision.

“If this application had been successful, it would have opened a can of worms along the Southern Upland Way and had a massive impact on Clovenfords and the Tweed Valley,” he said.

And Clovenfords & District Community Council secretary, Stuart Bell, said local people were “ecstatic” and that the decision vindicated the steadfast objection by surrounding communities to what he called a “totally inappropriate” development.

“We considered that the Broadmeadows application was unacceptable to residents in our village, to road users and tourists, and to recreational users following the paths and trails on and around the Southern Upland Way,” said Mr Bell.

“The reporter found in our favour on all these aspects.”

Mr Bell thanked the hundreds of people in Clovenfords, Walkerburn, Ettrick and Yarrow Valleys, Selkirk and elsewhere in the Borders, who he said had been consistent in their objections and efforts over the past seven years to what he said would have been “ an outrageous intrusion” on a beautiful landscape.

“Common sense has prevailed,” he added.

But Mr Bell says the appeals process is clearly fundamentally flawed when it seems so easy for a developer to lodge a broad-based appeal against an overwhelming unanimous rejection by the planning committee.

“The legislation which covers appeals was amended in 2006 – it really is time that the Scottish Parliament considered a review of the amended legislation, because how it operates in practice seems to be neither just nor fair.”