SELKIRK Community Council has this week renewed its objection to an eight-turbine wind farm being sited at Broadmeadows near Yarrowford, writes Andrew Keddie.
It appeared the threat had been removed in June when Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee rejected the bid by renewable energy company GreenPower. But the firm has lodged an appeal to the Scottish Government’s department of planning and environmental appeals (DPEA) which is due to be heard later this month, leaving the community council – one of 231 objectors to the original proposal – little time to address a revised development.
Greenpower’s Craig Potter stated: “The proposal has been carefully thought through and extensively amended in light of relevant planning legislation and extensive consultation.”
But, writing to the DPEA this week, Ian King, chairman of the community council’s planning sub-group, stated: “We are still of the view that the Borders contribution towards the national carbon reduction requirements could be better achieved through smaller-scale, less intrusively-sited turbines.
“We remain concerned that, should this development be allowed, the local environment would be adversely affected, especially by unsightly overhead grid connections. This, in turn, may prejudice visitor numbers to the area and thereby have a negative impact on the local economy.”
At last week’s monthly meeting of SBC, Councillor Gavin Logan from Clovenfords, from where the turbines would also be visible, wondered why developers like GreenPower had three months to prepare an appeal when local authorities and communities only had up to three weeks to respond.
And he asked Selkirkshire councillor and fellow Tory Carolyn Riddell-Carre if she agreed this was unfair.
Mrs Riddell-Carre, who is SBC’s executive member for planning and environment, said she did believe it was unfair, adding: “It is vitally important that there is a level playing field for determining appeals and that planning authorities, like SBC, and community councils have sufficient time to respond to the case submitted by appellants.
“At the same time, it is important appeals are determined without undue delay so communities do not have the threat of inappropriate development hanging over them any longer than necessary.
“The Scottish Government should therefore ensure appellants are restricted to submitting only that information that was originally before the planning authority when the application was determined, thus treating wind farm applicants in the same way as other applicants. If this cannot be enforced, then local planning authorities and communities should be given an extended period to submit representations on any new matters submitted by applicants.”
And when asked by Mr Logan if she could give an indication of the subsidies received nationally by wind farm developers, Mrs Riddell-Carre claimed that, currently, it cost £600million in subsidies to generate £500million worth of electricity.