By Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter
Over the past ten years, 58 appeals were made to the Scottish Government
against a planning application refusal from Scottish Borders Council. Out
of these, the decision was reversed in 25 cases by Scottish Government
This figure includes 8 out of 21 decision on windfarms.
In Berwickshire the most recent example was the granting of planning
permission for the eight turbine Howpark wind farm at Grantshouse in April
this year. A Scottish Government reporter overturned a decision by Scottish
Borders Council to refuse consent for the development after concluding that
objections, based on noise and visual impact, were not sufficiently strong
to warrant refusal.
The Borders figures were revealed in response to a question from Hawick
Councillor Neil Richards at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council last week.
In response to the question, executive member for planning and environment
Tom Miers said that since 2009, 43% of decisions by Scottish Borders
Council have been overruled by the Scottish Government on appeal.
Appeals can be made to the Scottish Government if the Planning and Building
Standards Committee has rejected a planning application. Decisions go to
the planning committee if they are major developments or controversial.
Commenting after the figures were revealed, Councillor Neil Richards said:
“The local community were strongly against the Pines Burn wind farm and
Scottish Borders Council’s refusal of the application reflected that. For
the Scottish Government to overturn this decision and impose a wind farm on
residents was hugely frustrating.
“However, it now appears that this type of interference by Holyrood is
quite common and that developers stand a good chance of getting permission
if they go to the Scottish Government.
“As a councillor it is extremely frustrating that Edinburgh is so often
interfering with local decision making and it’s sending out a message that
developers are more important than the views of local communities.
“It is easy to get the impression that the SNP don’t really care about
Borderers and their views.”
Borders Conservative MP John Lamont added: “While onshore wind has a role
to play in Scotland’s energy mix, there is certainly a feeling in the
Borders that we have more than our fair share of wind turbines.
“For local people to be ignored so readily by the SNP Government is truly
shocking. It should be local communities and local councillors deciding
whether wind farms or other large developments are right for rural areas,
not a form filler in Edinburgh. This simply should only happen in rare
cases and the planning system is in clear need of reform.”