Residents to fight plans for giant wind farm near Teviothead

Landscape south of Teviothead.
Landscape south of Teviothead.

Residents have vowed to fight plans for a major windfarm in a designated regional scenic area near Teviothead.

Community Windpower revealed plans last year for a 45-turbine wind farm to straddle the Borders-Dumfries and Galloway border at Faw Side.

The Cheshire-based developer wants to build the UK’s tallest onshore windfarm at the site, six miles north of Langholm and 15 miles south west of Hawick.

The company says the scheme, capable of generating up to 315mw of green electricity, would bring investment of around £256m into the region.

However, residents have baulked at the scale of the project, consisting of 40 200m-high turbines – four times the height of the Waterloo Monument at Peniel Heugh near Jedburgh – with the remaining five engines to stand at 178m.

Following public exhibitions held in Teviothead, Bentpath, Langholm and Ewes over the last fortnight, residents have formed the Faw Side Community Group to fight the scheme.

Their concerns include the cumulative landscape impact that the tallest onshore turbines in the country would have on the Langholm Hills regional scenic area, including the upland glen and other landscapes of Eskdale and the Ewes Water Valley and the heather moorland of the Southern Uplands.

Fears have also been raised about aviation lighting on top of the turbines, water running off the hills, noise and flicker.

Group member Jan Little said: “The turbines will be on five properties – Westerhall Estate, Bush of Ewes, Meikledale Lymieckeuch at Teviothead and Stennieswater Forest.

“The exhibitions the developer held gave no visuals of what it would look like, so locals could not get a feel for the actual height and the impact they are going to have on the local landscape.

“When asked at the meeting, their representative was unable to supply these.

“The proposals for these turbines also include a substation and entrance to allow construction. When asked, the Community Windpower representative said that the location of this had not yet been decided but that it looked like it would be at the Teviothead end.”

Representatives of Community Windpower attended meetings of Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk and Upper Teviotdale and Borthwickwater community councils earlier this week, but members said the detail they were seeking was still not forthcoming.

Bob Francombe, chairman of Upper Teviotdale and Borthwickwater Community Council, said: “The public exhibitions on Faw Side wind farm by the developer were disappointing as the only new information available was the reduction in the number of turbines from 49 to 45.

“The scoping report, which had been submitted over 12 months ago, was also available at those exhibitions.

“At Monday night’s community council meeting, which was well attended by members of the public, representatives from Community Windpower gave a brief explanation of what stage they are at, but again no new information was forthcoming.

“They took questions from the room and one of the main concerns was what would happen to people’s private water supply when the work started on top of the hills around Teviothead and Ewes.

“The representatives were unable to answer this, referring to the independent company tasked with looking at the ecology of the area.

“Another area of concern was the traffic management plan and how the site would be accessed by the large loads that a wind farm of this size would require.

“They stated that they were in talks with the Forestry Commission to use the forestry roads from Eskdalemuir, so the majority of public roads in our area would not be used.However, these talks are only at a very early stage and nothing has been agreed as yet.

“It was pointed out to them that the road had not been completed through the forestry as it had become a logistical nightmare with all the different landowners involved.”

Nearby neighbours are also worried that the aviation lighting will impact their homes at night.

They believe that, as the site is on a transatlantic flight path, the developer has underestimated the frequency of air traffic over it.

“The lighting of the masts was not addressed at the meeting although they had been at the presentations with Community Windpower, who stated that the lights would be controlled by radar and switched on when aircraft were approaching,” Mr Francombe said. “However, it is more likely that they will be permanently lit as the masts are all over 149.5m high.”

Community Windpower expects to formally submit its proposals to the energy consent unit of the Scottish Government in May.