Plans are being drawn up to add an extra 12 turbines to the 48 already making up the Fallago Rig wind farm, near Longformacus, and to extend the site’s lifespan by five years.
The existing wind farm was approved by the Scottish Government in 2010 and opened by EDF Energy three years later.
Scottish Borders Council was one of numerous objectors to the current green energy plant, in the Lammermuir Hills, and it had to go through two public inquiries before being given the thumbs-up by ministers.
The council objected back then on the grounds of the cumulative landscape and visual impacts of the scheme, but this time round it is being recommended to give its blessing.
Neighbouring East Lothian Council is still objecting on the same grounds, however.
The 12 new turbines, capable of producing around 3.45mw of power each, would be up to 126.5m tall.
Ten of them would be erected around the southern edge of the existing wind farm, with the other two being located towards the east on the upper part of Meikle Law.
The Scottish Government’s energy consents department will have the final say on the latest planning application for the wind farm extension, but Scottish Borders Council is among the statutory bodies being asked for their opinions.
The council’s planning committee will decide on a response at its meeting on Monday, but it is being recommended by assistant planning officer Scott Shearer to support it.
That change of heart has come in for criticism from Lammermuir Community Council, and its chairman, Mark Rowley, said: “It seems incredible that an assistant planning officer would recommend support for an even larger version of a windfarm that Scottish Borders Council was so clear was unacceptable.
“This is a unique case where planners are not being asked to consider hypothetical plans but to consider re-consenting a windfarm that can be seen and visited.
“We are particularly disappointed that the report doesn’t seem to recognise the huge risks that, if either Fallago Rig 1 or Fallago Rig 2 are consented, the latest Scottish planning policy would deem the sites suitable for wind farm use in perpetuity.
“Officers seem determined to consign the Lammermuir Hills to becoming a permanent wind farm landscape.
“There is simply no need for an additional windfarm here or for the existing one to be extended.
“The wind farm is economic folly at the cost of the landscape and those who live, work or visit here.
“What should be a cherished special landscape area is already at risk of being consigned to long-term industrialisation as of the 576 consented large-scale turbines that affect the Scottish Borders, 391 affect Berwickshire, and most of those impose their effects on the Lammermuirs.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The council has made no decision yet. Officers are now recommending that members do not object to the proposal.
“This is based on a detailed assessment of the application, its impacts and consistency with national and local planning policy as it stands at this time.”
Tony Scorer, head of onshore wind development at EDF Energy Renewables, said: “We very much welcome the officer’s recommendation, especially in light of what we see as very positive comments on the landscape impact of our proposals for Fallago Rig.
“The extension of Fallago Rig will contribute to the council’s targets for inward investment, jobs supported and renewable energy as set out in its economic development strategy.”
With 145m turbines being built nearby at Aikengall, and other local windfarms still waiting for Ministers to determine, we urge SBC councillors to take a precautionary approach, to maintain their existing position and to object to additional windfarm development in the Lammermuir Hills. At the end of its current consent Fallago Rig 1 should be decommissioned and the landscape restored as was promised in its original consent.
With a new local development plan and the huge rate of development in the area, these complex windfarms raise significant issues that require the full scrutiny that only a Public Local Inquiry not the nod of a planning official.”
Fallago Rig is a 48 turbine windfarm in the Lammermuir Hills Special Landscape Area, Berwickshire, Scottish Borders
It is owned and operated by EDF
There are current applications for a second windfarm “Fallago Rig 2” of 12 x 126.5m turbines and an extended consent for the 48 x 110-125m turbines at Fallago Rig 1
Scottish Planning Policy SPP 170 States “Areas identified for windfarms should be suitable for use in perpetuity. Consents may be time-limited but windfarms should never the less be sited and designed to ensure impacts are minimised and to protect an acceptable level of amenity for local communities.
The Lammermuir Community Council represents the interests and views of residents in a large part of the Lammermuir Hills Special Landscape Area.
According to REF (Renewable Energy Foundation) since 2013 constraint payments of £16,365.105 have been paid to Fallago Rig and 190,777 MWh of renewable generation has been lost
The Lammermuirs are currently home to Scotland’s largest onshore wind turbines with the 145m (510 feet) turbines currently being constructed nearby at Aikengall II