Objectors welcome rejection of proposed wind farm near Hawick
The rejection of plans for a wind farm near Roberton for the second time is being hailed as a victory for local democracy by campaigners.
Proposals for the £8m Barrel Law development, consisting of seven turbines up to 132m tall, were thrown out by Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee in September.
The company behind the plans, West Lothian-based ABO Wind, submitted an appeal to the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals division in November, however.
That appeal has proved unsuccessful, though, with the Holyrood reporter in charge of the appeal, Elspeth Cook, deeming it would have an overwhelmingly adverse impact on residential amenity and the landscape.
Ms Cook also felt the porposed development, two miles north-west of Roberton and almost six miles west of Hawick, would be too close to the existing Langhope Rig wind farm.
The Livingstone firm faced widespread opposition from residents after revealing its initial plans in 2012, and they went on to form the Barrel Law Action Group.
Community councils and Scottish Borders councillors also registered objections to the plans.
Ms Cook’s decision has been welcomed in particular by Stephen Lucking, whose family has owned nearby Easter Alemoor farm for almost 100 years.
“Local people have been strongly opposed to a wind farm at Barrel Law ever since the original scheme emerged,” Mr Lucking said.
“After that was refused on appeal in 2014, they were very disappointed when ABO returned in 2017 with this new scheme.
“People had to set out their opposition all over again, but the large number of objections emphasised that although the new scheme featured some improvements, it should still be rejected.”
That wasn’t the feeling of the local authority’s planning officers, though, and they recommended that it be approved.
Mr Lucking added: “The opposition from several community councils and councillors Davie Paterson and Watson McAteer bolstered spirits, and the level of local opposition remained strong.
“It would have been easy to give up when the scheme reappeared, but we hope this result will encourage others not to roll over and assume developers always win.
“Fighting a wind farm is time-consuming and pits David against Goliath.
“It can prove expensive, especially with an appeal.
“We were fortunate that we could raise sufficient funds to instruct landscape architect Mark Steele and James Campbell, a QC with vast experience in planning issues.
“We are indebted to both for their sterling efforts in challenging ABO.
“We regret there is nothing to prevent wind farm developers from making further applications at Barrel Law but would ask them politely to accept that decisions by two different reporters are sufficient reason to stay away from Barrel Law and allow local people and those from further afield to enjoy an unspoilt area.”
Mr Lucking’s thoughts and fears over future attempts to develop in the area are shared by Philip Kerr, chairman of Southdean Community Council, a fellow objector to the plans.
“I am pleased to see that overwhelming residential impact has been recognised by the reporter at Barrel Law and that schemes such as these should recognise the effect on those living in close proximity,” Mr Kerr added.
“I was also pleased to see the reporter recognising that the turbines were out of scale with the local landscape and that the development was also not far enough away from the existing development at Langhope Rig.
“Hopefully, such reasoning will have an effect on the designing of future proposals that may be made in the area.”