By Kirsty Smyth

A public inquiry has begun into plans for a 15-turbine wind farm south east
of Hawick.

The hearing into the proposed Birneyknowe development opened at Minto Golf
Club today, March 7, following a two-day postponement due to the recent
wintry weather.

County Durham firm Banks Renewables wants to erect 15 turbines up to 132m
tall on land near Stobs Castle, and it says the project could yield a £2.5m
community benefit fund to support local groups and good causes.

However, Scottish Borders Council feels the scheme is not appropriate
because of the landscape, visual and cultural impact it would have.

Giving evidence, landscape architect Brian Denney, a witness for the
applicant, acknowledged that the development would have a “significant
impact” on the landscape character and on parts of the landscape
surrounding the site, but he insisted that it would not constitute an

Addressing concerns over the impact on the Teviot Valleys special landscape
area (SLA), Mr Denney told the opening hearing: “Intrusion suggests a
greater degree of harm, such that the key characteristics and qualities of
the SLA would be diminished to a material degree.

“It is not understood that any of the effects identified in relation to the
Birneyknowe proposals should be considered to have reached such a degree of

“In all instances, even where significant effects have been identified, the
overriding characteristics and features of the SLA, and its landmark
features, with their pastoral and woodland settings, would remain.”

Reporter David Liddell said evidence would be heard over a number of days,
with final submissions due to be made on April 2 and 9.

SAS Volunteer

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