COUNCIL BACKTRACKS AND SUPPORTS THE VERY WINDFARM THAT IT OBJECTED TO BEING BUILT!

A Community Council in the Scottish Borders is expressing outrage and disbelief that a local planning officer is now recommending support for a larger version of a controversial windfarm that Scottish Borders Council objected to ever being built.

Scottish Borders Council was one of several groups that objected to the 48-turbine windfarm at Fallago Rig in the heart of the Lammermuir Hills Special Landscape Area. The proposal went through two controversial Public Inquiries before being consented, against the wishes of Scottish Borders Council, by Scottish Ministers. SBC objected on the grounds of the cumulative landscape and visual impacts of the scheme. Neighbouring East Lothian Council still objects to the scheme due to their adverse landscape and visual impacts.

Developers are now back applying for a re-consent to extend the duration of the existing 48 turbines and are seeking consent for a further 12 even larger turbines at Fallago Rig 2. The combined site could see 60turbines up to 126.5m tall in the heart of the Lammermuir until 2044 and beyond.

Fallago Rig windfarm is particularly controversial as it is so frequently constrained and prevented from producing power. Since 2013 it has received over £16.3 million of consumer-funded constraint payments and almost 200,000 MWh of renewable energy have been lost. Over £1.3 million has been paid to the developers in August and September 2016 alone.

Lammermuir Community Council Chairman, Mark Rowley, said: ” It seems incredible that an Assistant Planning Officer would recommend support for an even larger version of a windfarm that the existing one that Scottish Borders Council was so clear was unacceptable. This is a unique case where planners are not being asked to consider hypothetical plans but, to consider re-consenting a windfarm that can be seen and visited.

We are particularly disappointed that the report doesn’t seem to recognise the huge risks that, if either Fallago Rig 1 or Fallago Rig 2 are consented, the latest Scottish Planning Policy would deem the sites suitable for windfarm use in perpetuity. We just don’t think that sufficient consideration has been given to the risks of perpetual windfarm use and officers seem determined to consign the Lammermuir Hills to becoming a permanent windfarm landscape. Both SNH and East Lothian Council have raised concerns about the site’s suitability for us in perpetuity.

We are urging our Councillors to visit the area, to assess the effects themselves and then maintain SBC’s previous position that a windfarm here is unacceptable and to see the additional adverse effects it would impose on The Southern Upland Way and iconic viewpoints such as the Twinlaw Cairns.

There is simply no need for an additional windfarm here or for the existing one to be extended. Scottish energy targets are already effectively met and much of Fallago Rig’s potential to generate power is already being wasted with almost 200,000 MWh lost and over £16 million of constraint payment added to consumers bills in just three years. Our residents think it obscene in an area that struggles with particularly high levels of fuel poverty and relies on its landscape to drive the local economy. As one resident said – won’t EDF get enough from Hinkley Point?!

The windfarm is economic folly at the cost of the landscape and those who live, work or visit here. EDF’s own environmental statement acknowledges that economic benefits would be “not significant at local, regional and national scales”.

This isn’t an efficient exercise in wind farming as so much of that power is lost. It looks like an attempt at subsidy farming. If payments continued at current levels Fallago Rig could receive around £140 million from consumers during its lifetime.

What should be a cherished Special Landscape Area is already at risk of being consigned to long-term industrialisation as of the 576 consented large scale turbines that affect the Scottish Borders 391 affect Berwickshire. Most of those impose their effects on the Lammermuirs.

With 145m turbines being built nearby at Aikengall, and other local windfarms still waiting for Ministers to determine, we urge SBC councillors to take a precautionary approach, to maintain their existing position and to object to additional windfarm development in the Lammermuir Hills. At the end of its current consent Fallago Rig 1 should be decommissioned and the landscape restored as was promised in its original consent.

With a new local development plan and the huge rate of development in the area, these complex windfarms raise significant issues that require the full scrutiny that only a Public Local Inquiry not the nod of a planning official.”

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