Rejected bid for wind farm near Hawick goes to appeal

How the Barrel Law wind farm near Ashkirk would look.
How the Barrel Law wind farm near Ashkirk would look.

A firm planning a wind farm near Hawick is appealing to the Scottish Government to overturn a decision by councillors to reject it.

Proposals for the £8m development, consisting of seven turbines up to 132m tall at Barrel Law, near Roberton, were thrown out by Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee in September.

The company behind the plans, German-based ABO Wind, has now submitted an appeal to Holyrood’s planning and environmental appeals division, however.

A spokesperson for the company said: “The planning application complied with all relevant technical and planning requirements and did not meet with any objections from statutory agencies, including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Historic Environment Scotland and the Ministry of Defence.

“The application was refused on the grounds of landscape and visual impact, though neither Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government’s landscape adviser, nor the council’s own landscape adviser recommended an objection.

“The development site is located within an area identified by the council’s local development plan as having the highest capacity for a wind turbine development.”

The firm has faced opposition from residents, community councils and Scottish Borders councillors ever since it first unveiled its intention to build a wind farm on the site in 2012.

A rejection soon followed due to concerns voiced by the Ministry of Defence over possible interference with radar systems at the Spadeadam Royal Air Force base near Brampton in Cumbria.

Those plans were subsequently revised, reducing the number of turbines proposed from eight to seven, prompting the MoD to withdraw its objections and council planning officers to recommend approval of the revised bid.

Councillors overruled that recommendation, though, after hearing that all but one of the 75 comments submitted to the authority about the plans were objections.

The council also received objections from six community councils covering patches within sight of the proposed wind farm, and Hawick and Hermitage councillors Davie Paterson and Watson McAteer also voiced their objections.

The latter wrote to fellow councillors saying: “This application is a test, and should this authority grant the application, it is in danger of sending a signal to all developers that rejection is simply a temporary setback and that, after some fine tuning, reapplication is likely to be successful.

“This approach is debilitating for fragile communities being worn down by commercial enterprises that bring financial muscle to a process destined to create overproliferation, landscape desecration and wind turbine blight in a naturally beautiful area of the Borders.

“Those I represent can see no valid reason why the previous rejection is not equally valid today, and it is your responsibility to ensure that this community is listened to.

“It is quite ridiculous that those who live and nurture this area are once again being called to fight to protect a precious environment from a profit-centred business who have no interest in the effect their development will have on such a historic rural community.”