Hearing held over Barrel Law wind farm plans
By Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Reporter
A hearing has been held by Scottish Government officials to discuss the
proposed new wind farm at Barrel Law, near Hawick.
In September, plans for an £8m wind farm were rejected by Scottish Borders
councillors.
The proposal would have seen seven turbines, of up to 132m in height,
erected on land to the north-west of Roberton, near Hawick.
The company behind the plans, Germany-based ABO Wind, then submitted an
appeal to the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals
division (DPEA).
As part of that appeal process, the DPEA’s appointed reporter Elspeth Cook
held a hearing at Forman Hall, Roberton.
However, the hearing was simply to clarify and define legal terms and
certain technical standards in order to help inform Ms Cook’s decision.
For example, one point of contention between Scottish Borders Council and
ABO Wind is whether or not the combined appearance of Barrel Law and the
existing wind turbines at Langhope Rig will create a ‘landscape with wind
turbines’ or a ‘wind turbine landscape’, as per the legally-defined
definitions.
The council’s position is that a distance of between 5-10km is required in
order to maintain the current landscape type in the valley, but ABO Wind
suggest the turbines should be less than 2km apart, as they state that
spreading out the two turbine sites would actually make the landscape look
more saturated as the wind turbines would effectively cover a larger area.
Furthermore, they state that a greater distance between the two
developments would push the Barrel Law turbines outside of the topography
which makes wind farms viable in this area.
Appearing as part of ABO Wind’s panel of representatives, land and
development consultant James Welsh told the reporter: “In our opinion we
preserve the distinct identity of the two groups.
“There are examples of wind farms being approved with similar distances
between them but still being accepted as being clearly separate wind farms.
“To insist on a greater separation would increase the effect of a
cumulative effect between them.”
Scottish Borders Council’s planning consultant, Dr Guy Wimble, said: “I
don’t dispute that they are identifiable as separate elements, my issue is
the effect of the wind farms on the landscape, and recognising that they
are two different wind farms not one development.
“The proximity of them makes this appear more of a wind farm landscape
rather a landscape with wind farms.
“While I accept that separating the developments would make the wind farms
seem more spaced out, by putting them closer you’d increase density.”
John Campbel QC, appearing on behalf of a group of objectors called Barrel
Law Action Group, said: “If you pull the wind farms apart then clearly you
increase the area of cumulative effect.
“If you pull them together, you’re going to increase the cumulative effect
just by sheer numbers, and you lose the ability to discern the two as
distinct entities.”
Melrose and Leaderdale councillor Tom Miers, appearing in his capacity as
Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for planning and environment,
told the hearing: “It seems to me that the guidance allows for developments
in this area but doesn’t necessarily promote it.
“No one is disputing that the two wind farms would be separate, we’re
working to find out what degree of separation would be appropriate.”
Mr Welsh responded: “If you increase to a 5km distance it will push all
120m turbines outwith the area that has been identified as having the
appropriate topography for this type of development.”
Ms Cook also sought clarification on certain technical points, mostly
surrounding tables and figures contained within various reports submitted
by the appellant and the local authority.
The Hearing can be viewed at https://dpea.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

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