A renewable energy firm is weighing up its options after its proposal for
eight large wind turbines at Brunta Hill near Lauder was unanimously
rejected on Monday.

Speaking to the Border Telegraph after the meeting of Scottish Borders
Council’s planning committee, Gemma Hamilton, project development manager
of PNE Wind UK Ltd, said: “We maintain our position that this is an
acceptable scheme.

“Following detailed examination of today’s decision, we will explore what
further options are available to progress this development.”

Given that the firm had reduced the scale of its original proposal for the
site – four miles north-east of Lauder and two miles north-west of
Westruther – an obvious option would be to appeal Monday’s decision to a
reporter appointed by a Scottish Government committed to meeting renewable
energy targets.

“Over the past three years, we have consulted extensively with SBC,
statutory consultees and the local community and used their feedback and
advice to shape this proposal,” said Ms Hamilton.

“This has included significant improvements to the design by reducing the
number, layout and height of the turbines and associated infrastructure.”

In fact, in its revised proposal PNE had cut the number of turbines from 10
to eight and had reduced the height of each, base to blade tip, from
126.5metres to 100metres.

But that did not assuage the affected community councils – Lauderdale,
Gordon & Westruther and Cranshaws, Ellemford & Longformacus – which all
submitted objections.

Also not convinced by the changes was SBC’s planning officer Carlos Clarke
whose extensive report concluded with a strong recommendation for refusal
of the detailed planning application.

The site, on undulating agricultural land north-east of Blyth Farm, was
described as a “prominent ridge” with computer generated slides showing the
turbines dominating the skyline from various viewpoints.

Councillors were advised that the Brunta Hill proposal could not, in terms
of its visual impact, be considered in isolation and that its context was
informed by two other neighbouring wind farms.

The first was the industrial scale 48-turbine complex at Fallago Ridge on
the western fringes of the Lammermuirs. Now up and running, this
development was originally rejected by SBC before being endorsed, following
two public inquiries, by the Scottish Government.

The second – nine turbines at Corsbie Moor just south-west of Westruther –
was also kicked out by SBC last year, but is now subject of an appeal to
the Scottish Government’s directorate of planning and environmental appeals.

“This development would, by virtue of its prominent location, lead to
significant and unacceptable impacts on the landscape character of the
surrounding area,” said Mr Clarke.

“It would have an overbearing and dominant impact on the amenity of nearby
residential properties [including the housing groups at Gairmuir and

“In combination with Corsbie Moor and Fallago Rig, it would also lead to
unacceptable cumulative visual effects…on the northern section of the
Southern Upland Way, on surrounding roads and in residential properties.”

With several of the 110 individuals who had objected to either the original
or the revised proposal sitting in the public benches at Newtown,
Councillor Donald Moffat, who with other members of the committee had
visited the site recently, described the plans as “a step too far”.

“Some wind farms fit in quite nicely with the environment and others
don’t,” he said. “This is certainly in the latter category.”

Ms Hamilton told us: “We are extremely disappointed by this decision.

“Considerable effort has gone into the design of the Brunta Hill wind farm
to ensure the renewable energy potential of the site is maximised while
minimising the landscape and environmental effects on the surrounding area.”

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