Rejected plans for wind farm near Roberton now recommended for approval

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

A revised bid for an £8m wind farm development originally rejected because of fears it could interfere with Royal Air Force radar systems is now set for approval.

Scottish Borders Council threw out a bid by ABO Wind to site eight turbines at Barrel Law, north west of Roberton, in 2013, and an appeal was dismissed the year after.

That rejection followed concerns voiced by the Ministry of Defence over possible interference with radar at RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria and seismic monitoring at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm.

However, a revised plan for seven turbines on the site up to 132m tall has satisfied the MoD, and other concerns over the size and scale of the development have also been addressed.

Members of the council’s planning and building standards committee will be recommended to approve the scheme when they meet tomorrow, September 3, although a series of conditions will need to be met by the developer first.

A council report says 75 comments have been made about the project, all but one of them in opposition.

The firm says about 30 staff would be employed during the construction phase of the £8m wind farm, adding that there would be an ongoing community benefit fund set up to support projects in the area.

An MoD spokesperson said: “Following further discussions and consideration, we withdraw objections on the threat to radar and low flying impacts, provided the turbines are fitted with omni-directional or infrared lighting at the highest practicable point.”

As part of the revised bid the turbines would now be further away from public view, Monday’s meeting will be told.

In his report, council planner Craig Miller says: “In comparison with the refused initial Barrel Law scheme, it is concluded that there are no reasons why lack of landscape containment would be a reason to oppose the current scheme.

“The revisions, whilst lifting blade tip heights, have conversely lowered base heights, removed one turbine, moved the siting north and reduced the spread of turbines from most viewpoints.”

Philip Kerr,chairman of Southdean Community Council, expressed his disappointment at the recommendation, saying it “renders community empowerment a concept in name only”.

He added: “It will be readily visible from Carter Bar and add to the cumulative impact from that location when added to Langhope Rig. That has been the basis of our concern in comments we have lodged regarding the application.

“The decision to recommend approval from the planning officer is clearly disappointing and increasingly confirms the perception expressed locally that our landscape is being accorded diminished value, as well as providing further fuel to those that feel that local concerns are being overridden.

“These perceptions have been magnified by the recent decisions taken at national level on a number of schemes, which seemingly render community empowerment a concept in name only.”

Clark Crosbie, head of development for ABO Wind UK, said: “We have worked hard to bring forward what we believe are well-considered plans for the Barrel Law wind farm, and we look forward to those plans being formally considered by the council.

“The site is located well outside the area being discussed for a proposed Borders national park.

“In addition, the site has good wind resource, a readily available electricity grid connection, a proven turbine delivery route and is relatively isolated.”

The planned wind farm, 2km south of the existing one at Langhope Rig, would have a total generation capacity of up to 24.5mw.