Snubbed wind farm developer slams MoD

A WIND farm developer has hit out at the Ministry of Defence and Scottish Borders Council following the refusal of plans for eight turbines at Alemoor Loch.

ABO Wind UK’s proposed Barrel Law scheme was thrown out by the council’s planning committee on Monday on the grounds that it would adversely affect radar at RAF Spadeadam, the seismological facility at Eskdalemuir which monitors underground nuclear testing, and the Borders landscape.

However, following refusal of the plans for the 125m-high turbines, project manager Duncan Scott criticised both the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC).

Mr Scott said he was confident the wind farm would not impact on the Eskdalemuir facility because the limits set by the MoD on ground vibrations from wind farms within 50km had not been reached by operational or consented schemes.

He said the MoD’s allocation of the so-called ‘noise budget’ also meant that consented wind farm projects which had ‘stalled’ were holding up the approval and delivery of new schemes.

Mr Scott added: “The MoD’s expert witness on this issue has now accepted that the model used by the MoD to determine the impact of wind farms on the array, which is the basis of their objection to our application, is not fit for purpose.”

Mr Scott went on to say that the MoD’s view on the impact of the wind farm on radar was ‘confused and inconsistent’ and ‘demonstrably unfounded’.

He cited five decisions from secretaries of state which backed a planning inspector’s decision that turbines in the line of sight of the radar would not affect MoD operations.

Commenting on the landscape argument, Mr Scott said: “No significant adverse landscape and visual effects, including cumulative effects, were identified beyond five kilometres of the wind farm.

“While we note the council’s views on the level of landscape visual impact, we find it very difficult to agree with their conclusions.”

He added: “We also think it’s possible that, in their balancing of the determination, more weight has been given to landscape and visual impacts within the immediate vicinity of the Barrel Law site than to the impacts in the wider landscape, which Scottish Natural Heritage believes accord with their design guidance, and to the importance of national targets for renewable energy.”

Mr Scott said ABO Wind UK would review the council’s decision before “considering possible future options”.

Responding to Mr Scott’s comments, an MoD spokesperson told TheSouthern: “The MOD has not objected to wind farm proposals within the Eskdalemuir consultation zone on the basis that the ‘noise budget’ had not been reached. The MOD has objected to all applications for further development within the 50km zone on the basis that the development would result in an increase in seismic ground vibration beyond the permissible threshold.”

Commenting on Mr Scott’s assertion that the vibration limit model used is “not fit for purpose”, the spokesperson added: “The 2005 Styles Report remains the best available substantive research in respect to the Eskdalemuir facility.

“The Eskdalemuir Working Group, which has been reconvened by the Scottish ministers, is considering commissioning further research to re-examine the Styles Report.”

ABO Wind UK’s application sought to erect the eight turbines close to the consented, but yet to be built, Langhope Rig wind farm.

Local councillors had refused that plan, but their decision was overturned on appeal by a Scottish Government appointed reporter.

ABO Wind UK had said that investment into a community benefit fund could top £2m over the lifetime of their wind farm.